Petch Osathanugrah, Thailand’s Charismatic Energy Drinks Magnate, Dies At Age 69

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Petch Osathanugrah, former CEO of Thailand’s leading energy drink firm, Osotspa, passed away this week at age 69. He died in his sleep. Petch belonged to the storied Osathanugrah family, whose 132-year-old company is best known for its iconic M-150 drink, which outsells Red Bull in Thailand. The Osathanugrah family was ranked No. 10 with a net worth of $2.5 billion on Forbes’ list of Thailand’s 50 Richest published in July.

With his Afro hairstyle, Petch cut a striking figure and was a man of many distinctive parts. Besides being a successful businessman and the fourth generation member of one of the country’s oldest business clans, he was a chart-topping pop star, an advertising executive, and briefly, an actor. Apart from all this, Petch was the president of Bangkok University, one of the country’s largest private universities that was founded by his family.

After studying marketing at Southern Illinois University, Petch returned from the U.S. on his mother’s insistence to work in the family’s business. According to an obituary posted on Osotspa’s website, Petch drove crucial changes in one of the country’s oldest companies and turned what was a family business into a listed multinational run by professionals. As Petch once disclosed to Forbes Asia: “This is my vision…to go from one of the oldest companies in Thailand and transform it into one of the most modern.”

Since 2015, when he took charge, Petch brought about sweeping changes in Ostotspa’s product portfolio by refocusing on consumer products and also in its management ranks by recruiting multinational executives. In 2018, Petch orchestrated the public listing of Osotspa, raising $464 million in IPO, with an eye to extending the company’s footprint overseas, notably in neighboring countries.

Petch’s great-grandparents started what would become Osotspa in 1891 as a small pharmacy selling herbal medicines in Chinatown. The family name of Osathanugrah, which means “provider of medicine” was bestowed by Thailand’s King Vajiravudh. The M-150 drink was launched by Petch’s father Surat in 1985.

Petch openly acknowledged that “I’m a creative person, not a businessman.” As for his musical talent, his debut album It’s Just Ordinary, which released in 1987, got much critical acclaim. The song “I’m Not a Magical Guy” has been praised one of the most romantic in the Thai language. His second album, Let’s Talk About Love, topped the charts in 2007.

Petch was an avid art collector with a vast collection that includes the works of Picasso and Damien Hirst. For the past several years, the drinks magnate had been working on his pet project to build a contemporary art museum in the heart of Bangkok. Petch’s cousin Niti Osathanugrah, who sits on Osotspa’s board and has a portfolio of valuable investments, is a billionaire.

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