Chaleo Yoovidhya, creater of the popular Red Bull drink, recently passed away at a hospital in Bangkok. Yoovidhya was ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s 205th richest person. However, despite his success, Yoovidhya was a highly reclusive man. In fact, even his age is unclear as various newspapers have reported him to be either 81, 89 or 90 years of age at his death. He also has not apparently granted an interview in over 30 years, preferring to maintain his privacy.
Yoovidhya overcame a childhood of poverty to become an impressively successful businessman. In 1962 he founded T.C. Pharmaceuticals which manufactured antibiotics and cosmetics. His company created an energy tonic labeled as Krating Daeng which was used and promoted as a stimulant for rickshaw drivers, weary truckers and day laborers.
In 1982, an Austrian named Dietrich Mateschitz was on a trip to Thailand and happened to try some of Krating Daeng. He was astonished by the way the tonic completely eliminated all traces of jet lag. Mateschitz approached Yoovidhya about a partnership to market the tonic as a buzz-inducing beverage, carbonate it and mass produce it.
While the product initially failed due to its taste and texture, its energizing properties won the public over, bringing their yearly sales to nearly 4.4 billion cans per year in 162 countries. And almost immediately, Red Bull started the “energy drink” craze.
Yoovidhya was married twice and has 11 children. While we are not very familiar with the estate planning laws in Thailland, we hope he created a trust to ensure his estate passes on to his family in the way he would like. In fact, with an estate that large, it is very likely his family could be facing a very long and very costly probate if no estate plan was created.
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