THAILAND'S junta chief warned against the ''monopolisation'' of the country's airport ''duty-free'' sector on Thursday, ordering a review of the bidding process that could threaten the multi-billion dollar empire of current concession holder King Power.

Thailand expects to welcome 41 million foreign visitors this year, the majority at its airports which rake in an estimated $1.9 billion a year in duty-free sales.

State-owned Airports of Thailand [AOT] awarded King Power the sole concession in 2006, which expires in Sept 2020.

King Power was founded by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, an astute tycoon who made billions from duty-free and invested in everything from hotels and property to Leicester City Football club.

But the future of the company was thrown into uncertainty by his shock death last year, when his helicopter crashed outside the  British club's home ground.

The new contract for duty-free sales, AOT said, would be managed by a single company with a proven track record of experience in the sector, creating fears of a prolonged monopoly.

But junta chief  Prayut Chan-O- Cha said the government received complaints from interested parties  ''on the issue of monoloisation,'' a spokesman told reporters.

He assigned an urgent review of the bidding to find a ''suitable process to be fair.''

Thailand's Mall Group, shopping empire Central Group - both backed by billionaires - are eyeing entry into duty-free while South Korean giant Lotte is also in the hunt.

A lobby-group, the Thai Retailers Association, welcomes the review.
''I think it's a good sign,'' said Worawoot Ounjai, who is also an executive with Central Group.

He added that the current provisions for bidders were too stringent and left out less powerful competitors. [Agencies].

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on Global Conglomerates, Duty-Free Shops and Tourism continues.


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