Ko Ko Gyi
Source of wealth: Capital Diamond Star Group
Address: No.256/260, Sule Pagoda St, Kyauktada Tsp, YANGON
Business: Supermarkets & Stores, Real Estate Developer, Trading, Soft Drink Agent, Agro Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Agribusiness, Coffeemix, Fertilizer, Sales and Marketing of Foodstuff, Automobile & Air Conditioner Agent, Construction
Ko Ko Gyi has built one of Myanmar’s most prominent conglomerates, Capital Diamond Star Group (CDSG). Under his leadership, CDSG has grown into a diversified conglomerate with a presence spanning multiple sectors and particularly strong distribution capabilities throughout the country’s retail sector.
“The new investment law is a step in the right direction. But, institutional changes need to take place with, for example, the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), as it still does not function as a single window.”
Ko Ko Gyi, born in Mandalay, is the managing director of CDSG. Since 1993, he has served as the managing director of the family-run Diamond Star, which is now a unit of CDSG. Under his leadership in CDSG, the business grew into a successful multifaceted group of companies. CDSG has businesses across the food value chain, construction, agribusiness, real estate, retail, financial services, pharmaceuticals and others.
With over 50 years of operations, Capital Diamond Star Group (CDSG) has established advanced distribution capabilities and networks in Myanmar’s retail sector. CDSG began in the 1960s as a small agriculture trading company in Mandalay. It has grown into a diversified conglomerate with a presence in multiple sectors. CDSG maintains a relatively low profile among Myanmar’s business leaders and to date, has not ventured into high profile business sectors such as banking and airlines. CDSG is not listed on an exchange market.
Since 1999, CDSG has been importing, packing and distributing basal and foliar fertilizers across the country. Today, CDSG distributes fertilizers under its own brands, namely ARMO and Kala Oak. Some of CDSG’s brands (ARMO Fertilizer, Premier Coffee, Diamond Star wheat flour, Grab & Go convenience stores) are more widely known than CDSG itself. Premier Coffee, introduced in 2005, is the number one instant coffee brand in Myanmar. A unit of CDSG, under the responsibility of the company’s Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) division, Premier Coffee has over 30 branches.
CDSG’s core businesses in food contribute about 80% (US$400 million) of the total annual revenue. In other sectors, CDSG pursues a variety of enterprises. The company has eight divisions, including in real estate. In 2008, Ko Ko Gyi established Capital Development Limited (CDL). CDL is a part of Capital Diamond Star Group (CDSG) that operates in Yangon and Naypyitaw, from its Capital Hyper and Super Markets. CDL has completed Shwe Gone Dine Flyover Project and worked on Myay Ni Gone Flyover and GEMS Garden Condominiums Project. CDL also deals in telecommunications, automobiles, financial services and medicine.
Over the past few years, CDSG has signed agreements and entered joint-ventures with prominent foreign companies, such as Thailand-based distributor for Ford Automobiles, Japan’s Mitsubishi Cooperation in food, RMA, and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings in microfinance.
In 2012, an agreement was signed between Pepsi and Diamond Star to distribute PepsiCo beverage brands in Myanmar. In 2013, Capital Automotive was given the rights to distribute and deal with Ford products in Myanmar. Capital Automotive works in partnership with the RMA Group to modernize and bring innovative vehicle solutions to Myanmar’s automotive industry.
In 2015, CDSG and Mitsubishi Corporation formed a joint venture, Lluvia Limited (Lluvia). The company’s operation involved the manufacture and distribution of food in Myanmar and throughout the region. Lluvia aims to invest over US$200 million in diverse businesses in the food value chain. Moreover, CDSG has formed partnerships with global and regional brands such as Lotte and Julie’s.
In 2016, the World Bank’s private financing arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), invested US$1.2 million in the Fullerton Finance Myanmar Company (FFMC). CDSG is one of the key shareholders of FFMC, with a 15% ownership. One of its main goals is to increase its customer base from 10,000 to 200,000 by 2021.
Ko Ko Gyi is currently the chairman of the Myanmar-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (Upper Myanmar) (MCCI). He chairs the Capital Diamond Star Foundation, a philanthropic organization and is one of the founding patrons of the People’s Health Foundation. He also sits on the National Economic and Social Advisory Council (NESAC), which advised the former president of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
From 1999 to 2005, one of his prominent roles included membership of the Central Executive Committee in the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). He was also a founding member of ASEAN Business Advisory Council, between 2002 and 2004.