Birth: 21 January 1952
Source of wealth: Zaykabar Group
Address: No.334/336, Corner of 23 & Strand Rd, Latha Tsp, YANGON
Business: Construction, Real Estate Developer, Hotels, Travel & Tours
Construction magnate Khin Shwe is the chairman of the board for Zaykabar Group of Companies and Myanmar’s leading investor and developer in the construction industry.
“The 30-year plan is not practical and it will take time to achieve economic development. The market economy is the most effective means. That’s the way we should practice.”
Khin Shwe, born in Mon State, served in the government as an engineer before forming his first company Padamya Company in 1988. In 1990, he founded Zaykabar Company, which grew successfully and in 2014 recorded about US$20 million in profits.
Zaykabar Conglomerate Company has been an influential player in Myanmar’s construction industry for the past 25 years. Khin Shwe is regarded as one of Myanmar’s elite, not only wealthy but also well connected to military-backed enterprises. Khin Shwe is also well-known as the “caterer” of Gen. Khin Nyunt, before the General was ousted in 2014. Myanmar’s largest businesses in sectors such as banking, construction, tourism and telecommunication are still largely owned and operated by some 20 tycoons from well-connected families that have ties with military-backed enterprises.
Many of the regime’s elite, including owners of the Htoo Group and Zaykabar Company, have benefited greatly from the patronage of Thura Shwe Mann (the outgoing speaker and retired third-highest ranking member of Myanmar’s military regime). Khin Shwe’s daughter, Zay Zin Latt, is married to Thura Shwe Mann’s son. Zin Latt is owner of Cherry FM radio station and the managing director of Khin Shwe’s group.
His son, Zay Thiha, and son-in-law Toe Naing Mann are also influential persons in Myanmar’s business scene. Zay Thiha has worked closely on Zaykabar’s projects, especially the Pyay Garden Condominium, Mingalardon Garden City, Yangon Industrial Park and Karaweik Oo Yin Kabar. Khin Shwe’s son-in-law, Toe Naing Mann, is the head of RedLink, Myanmar’s second largest internet service provider.
Zaykabar owns real estate holdings in prime areas, for example an office tower in Yangon and the upmarket Karaweik Palace, a gold-painted barge with a restaurant at the center of Yangon. Myanmar’s generals frequently visited the palace during the junta regime. Zaykabar also operates a popular concert venue, in Hmyawsin Kyun Island in Yangon.
Between 2007 and 2008, Zaykabar Conglomerate Company opened the Royal Mingalardon Golf Course and 25-story Pyay Garden Condominium, the tallest building in Myanmar. Khin Shwe is also the owner of Mya Yeik Nyo Royal Hotel in Yangon.
Khin Shwe’s group is one of the few companies in Myanmar to have been issued with operating licenses for petrol stations, under the name of his son-in-law Toe Naing Mann.
Zaykabar Conglomerate protested the confiscation of land in Khin Shwe’s native Mon State, where the company wanted to build a US$220 million cement factory. In 2012, Khin Shwe defied government orders to halt the bulldozing of farmlands and refuted the farmers’ grievances at a parliamentary session.
Khin Shwe was top on the US sanctions list due to his support for a lobby group that tried to improve the image of the military government among the public. The military regime ended in 2011 after commanding power for half a century. The US lifted sanctions, including those on Khin Shwe, in October 2016.
He was elected to the Upper House for Yangon constituency in 2010, but was defeated by a candidate from the NLD during the 2015 election. He claims to have spent about US$1 million each year of his own funds on infrastructure development in his constituency since 2010.
After the NLD party won the general elections in 2015, Khin Shwe started to distance himself from Thein Sein, the outgoing President. Khin Shwe sought to build bridges with Myanmar’s ‘champion of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi’, calling her “Amagyi” or “Big Sister.” In a 2016 interview, he described their relations as that of a brother and a sister.
Khin Shwe is a leading founder of Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Association (MCEA) and has previously served as its chair. MCEA was formed in 1996 as a civil society to support development in the construction sector. The association has nearly 2,000 members and 1,000 construction companies. He is also the chairman of the National Development Company Group (NDCG), which has more than 2,700 shareholders. He is a promoter of Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holding Public Company (MTSH), a popular group of public companies from different business sectors and the largest shareholder-based public company in Myanmar.
Khin Shwe is also the vice chair of Myanmar Japan Friendship Association (MJFA) and Myanmar Korea Friendship Association (MKFA). He patrons Myanmar Hoteliers Association and also chairs Myanmar Tourism Board (MTB).
Khin Shwe set up Mya Yeik Nyo Foundation in September 2011, to deliver humanitarian assistance in health, education and culture. For social activities, he received many awards, including “Excellent Performance in Social Field.” In 2016, Khin Shwe revealed his plan to open a private museum in Yangon to showcase his collection of antiques, artworks and natural history artefacts. The museum will exhibit over 6,000 types of antiques, making it perhaps the largest private museum in Asia.