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Thai Tycoon Who Owns Fortune Magazine Plans Fintech Acquisitions

Anuchit Nguyen

(Bloomberg) -- A financial technology startup co-founded by the owner of Fortune magazine plans to widen the reach of its Southeast Asian remittance platform through acquisitions.

Lightnet, which describes its blockchain-based service as quicker and cheaper compared with traditional banks, may raise fresh capital to pour into purchases, said Chairman Chatchaval Jiaravanon. The company announced a $31 million funding round last week.

“Acquisitions will be the quickest way for growth in a fast-changing environment,” Chatchaval, 57, said in an interview. He’s a member of the billionaire family that controls Charoen Pokphand Group, one of the biggest Thai conglomerates. He bought Fortune magazine and its related businesses for $150 million in 2018.

Chatchaval will face intense competition in the blockchain arena from a host of startups as well as some of Asia’s largest technology firms and traditional financial institutions.

Bangkok-based Lightnet is initially targeting millions of underbanked migrant workers in Southeast Asia, a remittance market it estimates at $150 billion. Chatchaval said he plans to open offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and China -- adding to current footprints in Thailand and Vietnam -- and double staff strength to 120.

Lightnet’s financing round was led by companies including United Overseas Bank Ltd.’s venture unit and Hanwha Investment & Securities Co. Chatchaval said he wants his platform to process at least $50 billion worth of annual transactions in three years.

--With assistance from Edwin Chan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anuchit Nguyen in Bangkok at anguyen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sunil Jagtiani at sjagtiani@bloomberg.net, Natnicha Chuwiruch

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