Birth: 22 August 1967
Source of wealth: Max Manmar Group
Address: No.123, Alanpya Pagoda Rd, Dagon Tsp, YANGON
Business: Banking, Real Estate Developer, Hotel, Agribusiness, Transportation, Amusement & Recreation Services, Energy Business, Construction, Jade Mining, Shrimp Culture, Cement Factory, Taxi Service, Fuel Stations
Myanmar Billionaire Zaw Zaw formed The Max Myanmar Group, one of the nation’s most successful diversified conglomerates, employing over 7,000 salaried people in sectors from hotels and banking to transportation, cement, construction, the beverage market, gems and jewellery. The Max Myanmar Group of Companies has become a truly panAsian business, earning him recognition as “Max Zaw Zaw.”
“I am ready to play any part to support the country. I don’t care about positions. I will do what I can for our country.”
Myanmar millionaire Zaw Zaw developed his fortune through capitalisating on the old networks of patronage and power in Myanmar. Zaw Zaw worked for several years in Japan before returning home to Myanmar in 1994. In 1995, he established Max Myanmar Company which exported second-hand automobiles between Myanmar and other developing economies. In the early 2010s Max Myanmar Group’s annual revenue was about US$500 million. The group is among Myanmar’s most prosperous conglomerates, employing 7,000 people. The business empire covers a broad portfolio of businesses in sectors such as gems and jewellery, energy, retail, financial services, real estate, and transportation.
Zaw Zaw has been described as “one of several mid-level cronies that actively do the Myanmar regime’s bidding.” After Myanmar began to open up its economy, Zaw Zaw has worked hard to revamp his image and shake off the label of “military crony”.
Like Tun Myint Naing and Tay Za, Zaw Zaw is remembered for his input after the 2008 Cyclone Nargis. His company was among several who received multiple government contracts to reconstruct the Ayeyarwaddy Delta. Most of the bids during the construction of Naypyitaw, were also won by his group, for instance the stadium used during the 2013 Southeast Asian Games. In 2011, his group was awarded a government auction bid to purchase the Department of Population office in Yangon’s Kyauktada Township. The company also entered into a production-sharing contract with the Myanmar Ministry of Mines to process coal on a 2,100 ha (5,200 acres) land in Kalewa, Sagaing region.
Max Myanmar, together with the Indian firm Essar Group, were contracted to implement a US$120 million infrastructure project, dubbed the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. In 2012, Zaw Zaw withdrew his involvement (and US$2 million worth of shares) from a US$50 billion project commissioned to develop a special economic zone in Dawei. In 2007, he started his jade mine business in a joint venture with the government, occupying approximately 500 acres of jade mining blocks in Phakant, Kachin State.
In 2010, he formed Max Energy which now operates more than 20 petrol kiosks throughout the country. In 2013, Max Energy made a bid to join the Singapore Stock Exchange, but was rejected because of his presence on the US sanctions list. Washington removed Zaw Zaw from the sanctions lists in October 2016.
Max Myanmar Trading deals in heavy plant such as road rollers, bulldozers and excavators. Two further business segments include import and export of paddy, rice and construction materials. In 2004, Zaw Zaw established Shwe Yaung Pya (SYP) Agro and SYP rubber plantation and has so far invested over US$12 million. Max Hotels Group, established in 2002, self-operates Max Hotel; two other hotels (The Lake Garden and Novotel Yangon Max) are managed by France’s ACCOR.
Max Myanmar Construction, started in 1996, operates locally with over 1,200 employees and around 1,800 contractors. His group was a key party in constructing the Naypyitaw expressway and the eight-lane road. In 2010, his group acquired a 60% share in the development of Pyay Towers.
Max Highway, started in 2008, is conducting maintenance and upgrade operations in road sections and toll gate collections. Currently, there are ten government and three private cement factories in Myanmar that produce about 2.4 million tons of cement per annum. Max Myanmar Manufacturing seeks to resolve the shortage of supply in cement.
Zaw Zaw is a champion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and is regarded as one of Myanmar’s most generous philanthropists and donors to other charitable causes. His group has earned Asia’s Diamond Award as the most proactive company in terms of CSR. Max Myanmar contributed more than US$1.6 million to the relief effort during the 2008 Cyclone Nargis. Being among the top taxpayers in Myanmar in 2013, Zaw Zaw was also awarded the State Excellence Award by the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
Zaw Zaw is currently focusing on the banking and finance arm of Max Myanmar Holdings. His AYA Bank, established in 2010, employs more than 6,000 people in over 140 branches and is the second largest private bank in Myanmar. The bank took the challenge of becoming the first local institution to fully comply with the International Financial Reporting Standards in Myanmar. AYA Bank has launched “World Travel Visa Card” in partnership with VISA and in 2013, achieved “Best Private Bank in Myanmar” award at the World Finance Banking Awards.