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Meet the Billionaire Heirs to the Red Bull Fortune

Chaleo Yoovidhya left his family a $22B fortune
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2016 9:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – Among the richest humans on the planet when he died, Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya was a quiet-to-the-point-of-reclusive Thai entrepreneur who preferred duck farming to the trappings of wealth. And since the devout Buddhist's death in 2012, 11 of his family members have inherited his vast fortune, which Bloomberg estimates to be $22 billion. Yoovidhya began his journey to wealth by establishing TC Pharmaceuticals in 1956 to sell antibiotics, then moved into the world of energy drinks, and in 1975 invented a drink made with caffeine, sugar, and the amino acid taurine. He called it Krating Daeng, or Red Bull, and sold it in Asia until he met Austrian marketing genius Dietrich Mateschitz in 1987, who'd tried the drink to fight jet lag on a local business trip.

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After modifying the recipe and generating a global brand, the pair established Red Bull GmbH, which is based in Austria and owns distribution rights, as well as four professional soccer teams, two Formula One race teams, an airborne stunt team, and more. Today, Mateschitz, who is 72, is ranked the 80th richest person on the Bloomberg index with $12.3 billion and controls 49% of Red Bull GmbH, while 10 Yoovidhya family members share 49% and the oldest son owns 2%. As energy drinks continue to boom, Red Bull makes up 30% of the global market. The Yoovidhya clan is known to be as quiet as it is wealthy, though Coconuts Bangkok notes that the Bloomberg story ignores the ongoing scandal involving a grandson's hit-and-run that left a police officer dead. (The grandson's Ferrari tracked oil streaks home.)

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