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Thai tycoon goes on ad blitz calling for end to Hong Kong unrest

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Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group Co, a conglomerate that controls the world's biggest producer of animal feed and a top telecom firm in Thailand, took out ads on Tuesday in Ming Pao, Sing Tao and Oriental Daily.

[HONG KONG] A Thai billionaire was the latest to call for an end to the violence in Hong Kong with advertisements in local newspapers, joining local tycoons dealing with the economic fallout from the months-long unrest.

Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group Co, a conglomerate that controls the world's biggest producer of animal feed and a top telecom firm in Thailand, took out ads on Tuesday in Ming Pao, Sing Tao and Oriental Daily. His pleas included restoration of order, rule of law and mutual prosperity.

The mogul's appeal comes as businesses in Asia's financial hub increasingly find themselves in a tough spot in the conflict between protesters and Beijing over the future of the semi-autonomous city. Chinese authorities have sent a clear signal that companies failing to toe their line would face consequences. Some local tycoons have backed the administration, while others such as Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, have urged restraint on both sides.

The demonstrations, which started in early June against what some in Hong Kong view as Beijing's encroachment on the city's autonomy, have at times turned violent. The protests have shown no signs of abating.

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For the Chearavanont family, Thailand's richest with a US$37.9 billion fortune, according to a recent Bloomberg ranking, the stakes are high.

One of Mr Chearavanont's biggest holdings is a stake in Hong Kong-listed Ping An Insurance Group Co, one of China's biggest insurers. The group's CP Pokphand Co, an investment holding company, also trades in the city. CP Group senior vice-chairman Tse Ping, a billionaire nephew of Mr Chearavanont's, is chief executive officer of a city-based pharmaceutical company.

The group started almost a century ago when Mr Chearavanont's father fled his village in southern China after a typhoon and started a new life in Thailand selling vegetable seeds with his brother in 1921. Almost a century later, CP Group has become a main conduit for Chinese investment in the region.

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