The wind’s set fair

THE maroon hot-air balloons which carry tourists over Bagan—an ancient city teeming with crumbling red-brick temples—are famous in Myanmar. The fleet belongs to one of the country’s best-known tycoons. Since the pariah nation began to open up in 2011, Serge Pun has gradually transformed an empire built on property into a conglomerate with interests in tourism, consumer goods and other industries. His firms have become favourite partners for foreign multinationals.

Mr Pun is an atypical character in Myanmar’s business scene. He spent his teenage years in China, his family having left Myanmar after the army’s coup in 1962. During the Cultural Revolution Chinese authorities sent him to a re-education camp. He returned home in the early 1990s after starting his own property firm in Hong Kong.

He owns two flagship companies, First Myanmar Investments (which became the first company to list on Myanmar’s new stock exchange in March) and Yoma Strategic Holdings, which is listed in Singapore. Both hold stakes in a number of housing developments, whose value Myanmar’s opening has greatly...Continue reading