Red Bull’s founding family said they will invest $150 million to re-establish the energy-drink brand in China, where they’ve been involved in a battle of billionaires for several years with a former partner. Thailand’s Voovidhya family’s TCP Group formed a venture in China with the Reignwood Group, controlled by Chanchai Ruayrungruang (also known as Yan Bin) in the mid-1990s. The partnership, Red Bull Vitamin Drink Co. Ltd., expired in September 2018, TCP said in a statement. The brand, products and distribution rights have been the subjects of litigation in various centers since the partnership broke up, with Reignwood retaining control of the China business.
The Voovidhya family was ranked Asia’s sixth-richest dynasty, with a fortune of $24.5 billion, according to a Bloomberg report in August. Chanchai, who also owns Wentworth Club Ltd., is worth $2.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
TCP said in its statement that its sales in China last year, the first full period since the end of the venture, were about $150 million. Closely held Reignwood’s revenue from Red Bull in the country was 22.3 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in 2019, according to a report by Yicai Global.
TCP said it would make the $150 million investment over three years and it would go into new energy-drink products, manufacturing facilities and marketing with its current “strategic partners,” Guangzhou Yao Energy Co. Ltd. and Pusheng Food Sales Co. Ltd. It has also created the TCP’s China Intellectual Property Protection Fund, according to the company.
Red Bull GmbH had worldwide revenue of about 6.07 billion euro ($6.6 billion) last year, according to its website. It sold about 7.5 billion cans and containers of drinks, propelled by growth in emerging markets like Brazil, India and Africa.
Thai entrepreneur and occasional duck farmer Chaleo Yoovidhya, who died in 2012, teamed up with Austrian marketing whiz Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s to form the company after Mateschitz discovered Chaleo’s energy drink while looking to counteract jet lag on a business trip.