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Our diverse areas of expertise are designed to fit the changing needs of your project.

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Business Advisory
People Solutions
  • Franz von Merhart — Hospitality Expert
    Franz von Merhart (1962) has 25 years experience with the most prestigious names in the Hospitality Industry. Franz started his career with ACCOR International where he held different leadership positions in France, Senegal and Gabon. From 2002 to 2011 he was an Executive Manager at Orient Express, Trains and Cruises from. During this period Franz was also in charge of the iconic Road to Mandalay luxury cruises on the Irrawaddy River as well as the 5 star Governor’s Residence in Yangon. Prior to that Franz spent 9 years with Pansea Hotels and Resorts and opened hotels in Tunisia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia. Franz played a key role in the sale of Pansea Hotels and Resorts to Orient Express Hotels Trains & Cruises which were renamed during a short period Belmond before getting into LVMH Group. Franz acquired (in partnership) and developed the View Point eco lodge on Inle Lake in 2011. More recently he invested (in partnership) and developed SEEDS restaurant into the top-ranking fine dining place in Myanmar (Trip Advisor). Franz is perfectly fluent in French, German and English.
  • Dr. JP Verbiest — Financial Specialist
    Dr. JP Verbiest (1950) is currently the policy advisor and council member of the Mekong Institute, an intergovernmental organization based in Thailand. He is a regular senior consultant for the Asian Development Bank. He authored and co-authored several major studies on Myanmar, including a comprehensive study of Myanmar’s economy, “Myanmar: Unlocking the Potential” (August 2014). Previously JP held several senior positions with the ADB including Manager, Strategy and Policy Department, Assistant Chief Economist (Macro-economics and Finance) and Country Director for Vietnam (1996-2000) and Thailand (2005-2010). JP lives in Bangkok and has been based in Southeast Asia for 40 years. His principal research interests are macroeconomic and financial policies, and regional economic and financial cooperation and integration in East and Southeast Asian countries. JP holds a BA in economics and finance from FUCAM in Mons (Belgium), a MSC in Econometrics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium) and a doctorate in economics from Oxford University (UK). Jean Pierre’s wit and good sense of humour makes him a sought after speaker. He regularly addresses prestigious conferences in the region. In his little spare time JP likes to spend time with his family in the quietness of his country home and play golf.
  • Eric Rosenkranz — M&A Guru
    Eric’s (1952) involvement in Southeast Asia M&A over the years included working with West Indochina to help sell Myanmar Vineyards to Premium Distribution, engineering a trade sale to News Corp of Outdoor Solutions Group, advising Cimigo (HK) on their sale to Hakuhodo and subsequently advising Hakuhodo in numerous additional acquisitions throughout the region, and two successful IPO’s including the NASDAQ listing of Focus Media (China), at one time valued at more than $7.5 billion. “My firm belief in delivering successful negotiations is creating win-win scenarios for both sides, so that everyone comes away feeling they have achieved their objectives. This yields not only the most value for my client, but also helps ensure a successful post-merger outcome.” Eric has an MBA from The University of Chicago where he lectures at their Asian campus, in addition to teaching in the Masters of Branding and Marketing Program at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, as well as at SASIN, the Thailand based MBA program. He has appeared as a panelist and moderator at the World Economic Forum, and wrote a monthly column on strategy for the daily newspaper The Nation in Thailand for 14 years. Eric is a Permanent Resident of Singapore and has worked twenty-four years in Asia, ten in Europe and eleven in North & South America.
  • Leon de Riedmatten — Social Impact
    Léon (1952) is is an action-oriented field diplomat. For the last twenty years he has been tackling some of the main issues facing Myanmar and managed to achieve substantial results while keeping a very low and discreet profile. Prior to this service, Léon carried out humanitarian missions all over the world for many prestigious institutions. At ICRC, serving as head of delegation in Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985, he ran one of the biggest and most valuable operations in the Geneva-based Institution’s history. As head of ICRC delegation in Myanmar in 1999, Léon managed to get access to all political prisoners. He then became the facilitator on the ground between the authorities and the Burmese opposition under the auspices of the UNSG special envoy as well as the first ILO liaison officer in Myanmar Since 2012 Léon serves as an independent advisor to the peace process. He has in particular initiated a project related to Business & Peace in one of the ethnic states where a ceasefire had been agreed. He also advises Hanns Seidel Foundation, Maurice Machoud Foundation, Religions for Peace International. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of The Border Consortium (TBC)
  • U Min Sein — Myanmar Legal Expert
    U Min Sein (1946) is the founder and managing partner of a flourishing legal and financial consultancy with offices in Yangon. U Min Sein (Michael) is Advocate of the Supreme Court as well as a legal advisor and business consultant to many leading local and foreign companies operating in Myanmar. Michael is also the legal advisor to many Embassies in Myanmar, U Hla Tun Auditors (ex Price Waterhouse Myanmar), and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Switzerland). Michael is a board member of the AYA Bank and a committee member of the U Hla Tun Hospice (Cancer) Foundation. U Min Sein graduated with a B.Sc. degree in English, Physics, Chemistry and Pure Mathematics. He passed the Registered Accountant exam (R.A.) and is a CPA. Michael is an avid golfer and a member of the Yangon Golf Club.
  • U Min Zaw — Distribution Expert
    U Min Zaw pioneered the professional distribution of consumer goods in Myanmar. In 1993, as the Sales and Marketing Manager of Myanmar Singapura United Tobacco Ltd. (MSUTL), he built up and managed the largest sales force in Myanmar, organizing the distribution, sales and promotion of brands such as 555, Lucky Strike and Benson & Hedges cigarettes, Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, Lipton tea, Evian water, and Budweiser beer. In 1997, he set up his own company to become the sole importer and distributor of Amstel beer, and Korea Tobacco & Ginseng Corporation brands as well as other consumer products. He was also the country representative for the advertising agency EURORSCG BALL from Thailand and furthermore has set up Duty Free shops in both Yangon and Mandalay International Airports. U Min Zaw co-owned and managed a large and successful restaurant and beer pub business from 1998 to 2003. U Min Zaw holds a B.Sc. Physics from the Yangon University. During his free time, he loves to read, play golf, swim with his family, and power walks in the evening as his daily workout.
  • Luc de Waegh — Founder
    Luc (1960) has 17 years experience at country manager level with Philip Morris and British American Tobacco in Africa and South East Asia. Among many other activities, Luc launched BAT operations in Myanmar in 1993. He was also General Manager for BAT Thailand until the end of 2003. Born in Belgium, Luc holds an MBA (1988) from INSEAD, Fontainebleau and is a graduate (1982) of IAG (University of Louvain, Belgium). Luc is a regular speaker at regional conferences on the role responsible businesses can play in the development of Myanmar. Since April 2017 Luc serves as the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium in Myanmar. Whenever Luc has free time he likes to travel the less frequented roads of South East Asia on his motorbike or dive to enjoy the quiet beauty of the underwater world.
  • How does West Indochina help his clients achieve success?
    Over the last 30 years WI has developed a deep understanding of the ways things work in the Myanmar market. We are in a unique position to help our clients navigate the Myanmar’s complex web of social, cultural, legal, political, and economic challenges.
  • What is the most important strength of West Indochina?
    WI’s ability to deliver results lies on our network built over 30 years and our Associates, all with long term knowledge and experience in Myanmar, who both individually and collectively as a team understand that delivering solutions always start with deep market and local practices understanding.
  • What types of services does West Indochina provide?
    WI’s multi-function expertise is in partner search, market entry and exit, M&A, turnaround, executive search, HR consulting, legal advisory and education through our wholly owned subsidiary People Solutions. While WI can deliver assistance in all categories, we have a particular knowledge in consumer goods, hospitality, HR consulting and education. WI has also the ability to call on specialized expertise though our exclusive associations with such names as Roland Berger (Strategy Consultants), Dale Carnegie (Leadership and Communication Training), Rosetta Stone (online language learning solution) and Willis Towers Watson Human Capital (salary survey, HR consulting).
  • What is a common reason for business failure in Myanmar?
    Some foreign investors have met solid success in Myanmar. Other have experienced spectacular failure. Successes are easily shared and advertised. Less is known about failures that typically tend to keep a low profile. From my observations, the main reason for failure is a lack of understanding of local culture and practices as well as a poorly selected local partner.
  • How did it all start?
    I arrived in Yangon in April 1993 from the London HQ of British American Tobacco with a mission to start up operations in Myanmar. This was my first time in Asia. I had the good fortune to quickly meet some extraordinary people. With their help I set up what became one of the most successful consumer goods companies in the country. At the end of 2000 I moved on to Thailand to lead the local BAT operation and in 2006 decided to go back to Myanmar to create my own company West Indochina.
  • Finally, what does it take to succeed in business in Myanmar?
  • What is your biggest achievement?
    Whether or not it’s my biggest achievement depends on how you measure it, but I know that my greatest satisfaction in working in Myanmar has always been helping people to gain confidence in their abilities, expand their comfort zone, and reach their full potential. That’s what motivated me to invest in the Dale Carnegie Training franchise. This is a training company that’s over a hundred years told, and still offers transformational experiences that have changed the lives of so many around the world. I am proud that now it is available to Myanmar people.
  • What kept you so long in Myanmar?
    The People. I have lived and worked in 13 countries on 4 continents. Nowhere else than in Myanmar have I found more resourceful people with so much resilience, eagerness to learn and loyalty. In addition, they have a great sense of humor and a tremendous appetite for enjoying life. I have found it genuinely rewarding and pleasant to work with people with such a positive attitude and tenacity despite the many challenges most meet in their daily lives. Many have become good friends.
  • If you had only ONE piece of advice for local businesses, what would it be?
    Please invest in the development of your people. They are your best chance to develop your business to the next level.
  • If you had only ONE piece of advice for foreign businesses, what would it be?
    Get into a partnership with a local party and ensure your interests and your values are aligned. Local partners are essential to guide a company to navigate ‘the Myanmar Way’, but you need the right one, and to come to the right agreement on how to work together.
  • Is it possible to do business responsibly in Myanmar?
    Yes! But it takes effort. The challenges to doing business responsibly aren’t so different to those you’ll find in neighboring countries. The difference is the spotlight that is trained on companies in Myanmar. This magnifies any mistakes and omissions. And sometimes you need to work collectively with other likeminded companies to change the operating context and make it easier to do business responsibly. We do encourage responsible businesses to develop activities in Myanmar. Once responsible businesses will reach a critical mass, they will be in a position to lead a lasting change for the better.
  • And what about the biggest achievements of your Associates at West Indochina?
    I can give you many examples, but here are a few: In the consumer goods industry, we have created many “firsts” and built some of the best-known brands in country and developed the largest distribution network for any consumer good. In the hospitality sector we created a boutique hotel which is the first in Myanmar that I believe to be truly 5 stars, as well as the number one fine dining restaurant. In the M&A sector we arranged the successful sale of the largest vineyard in Myanmar, in the hills of Shan State, as well as the leading security company. In the manufacturing sector, we helped a foreign investor to understand the complex social issues and legacies around the Special Economic Zone where they ultimately successfully invested and contributed to local employment. In the financial sector, we advised on the landmark floatation of the Myanmar Kyat in 2012 which was one of the main steps that unleashed Myanmar’s economic potential.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)
    West Indochina was established in 2006 to assist clients achieve results such as pioneering Myanmar’s consumer goods industry, developing the country’s first truly five star boutique hotel and conducting negotiations to settle high profile land ownership disputes, just to name a few. Collectively, these unique journeys bring not only a wide and deep network along with an impressive collection of functional skills but also and most importantly an insider’s understanding of how things work in Myanmar. And yes, things do work in Myanmar, results can be achieved, deals can be signed and we can make things happen but it is not always immediate or linear. Our experience covers the key ingredients of a successful M&A project: People. In 2006 we pioneered the executive search industry in Myanmar, and in 2015 we became the exclusive franchisee of Dale Carnegie Leadership and Communication Training. In 2020 we became the Certified Partner of Rosetta Stone, the leading online language learning leading training company. Thanks to such experiences, we know we are well equipped to assess the quality of a team and bring the required adjustments. Strategy. A successful M&A is more than a deal. Success depends on how an acquisition fits into the broader long term strategic vison of a company and its market. Our association with Roland Berger, the leading strategy consulting firm active in Myanmar, has helped us gain superior understanding of the fundamentals of the Myanmar market. Legal. Commercial considerations may be paramount in M&A, but if proper legal procedures are not followed, you can trip up. The legal environment in Myanmar can be very challenging. Rules are not always clear and change quickly and without warning. It can be reach a satisfactory level of comfort before making any decisions, particularly on whether to invest. To understand local laws better, we have a network of trusted law practitioners. Our Founding Associate U Min Sein, Advocate at the Supreme Court, is a leading legal advisor in Myanmar. He and his team can offer clear and actionable advice – not a long list of cautions and disclaimers. Social. Whether buying or selling a company, or setting up a new business, you need to operate within the complex social fabric of Myanmar. Our Associate Leon de Riedmatten has been a privileged witness – and occasional participant – in major social and political developments in Myanmar since the 1990s. His understanding of Myanmar’s history and sociopolitical culture has judiciously guided many investors helping them to avoid serious pitfalls and to comprehend what at face value seems initially confusing. Myanmar Vineyard Myanmar Vineyard is the brainchild of German entrepreneur Bert Morsbach. Started with a few imported vines in 1998 into the Shan State and after going through a steep learning curve about growing grapes in tropical conditions, Aythaya wine was introduced to the local market in 2004. Curiosity brought many customers for their first experience of a wine made in Myanmar. Many stayed for the unexpected high quality and consistency. In 2015 it became clear that to continue to grow at a healthy pace a wider distribution was necessary. Several options were studied. City Mart is the leading retailer in Myanmar. One of the founder’s visions is to source as many products as possible in Myanmar. Their market leading operation specialized in HORECA channel was the perfect match. All ingredients for a good deal were present. West Indochina led it to a successful completion in 2017. EXERA In 2012, two entrepreneurs based in Myanmar, one British and one Canadian, realised that in this “last frontier market” there was a real need for professional security services. EXERA was born. From humble beginnings the company quickly gained the trust of prestigious corporations and international organisations. They grew extremely fast and left the two co-founders with not much time for anything else. In 2017 both co-founders had family circumstances which called for a change in lifestyle. They approached West Indochina for advice. We suggested a few options and they decided to go for the exit option. Myanmar Strategic Holdings (MSH) is a leading Private Equity firm focusing on Myanmar growth opportunities. MSH is listed on the London Stock Exchange. EXERA offered a growth potential that convinced MHS. Today, with MHS’ strategic input and disciplined operator’s approach, EXERA continues to grow and is well placed to support companies inn navigating new security risks.
  • Business Advisory
    We have assisted many companies local and foreign, large and small to develop their business to the next level. We can only be successful if our clients are successful. Discipline is part of our way of life at West Indochina. We take pride in respecting deadlines, objectives, and budgets. In forming our recommendations, we practice clarity and simplicity. We operate with frankness and integrity. We respect confidentiality - strictly. We do not advertise our achievements or the names of our clients unless they authorize this. Some of the ways we have helped our clients succeed include: Finding the right local / foreign partners, sharing values, and bringing complementary resources to the business Selling or Acquiring business units to deliver on an accelerated growth plan Advising on the optimum legal structure for existing or new ventures Sourcing key senior executives to lead change (retained Executive Search / Head Hunting) Strengthening the People side of the business to improve engagement, retention, and productivity Validating strategy and addressing shortcomings Preparing succession plans
  • People Solutions
    The biggest resource of Myanmar is not teak, jade or gas. It is PEOPLE. At West Indochina we are absolutely convinced about that. Yet, at the same time many investors find it challenging to Attract, Retain and Develop talents in Myanmar. That combination of circumstances called for the creation of PEOPLE SOLUTIONS. People Solutions Company (Myanmar) Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of West Indochina. and was incorporated in Myanmar in 2017. We provide under one roof the following solutions: Communication and Leadership Training with Dale Carnegie, the world’s first Transformational Training company. Established in 1912 Dale Carnegie’s renowned Training methodology is available in 88 countries and 30 languages. Language Training with Rosetta Stone, the world’s leading provider of online language learning solutions for corporations and individuals. The amazing technology powered by AI guide learners through their own individual development plan. The exclusive Live Tutoring on demand makes the learning journey much more enjoyable and efficient.
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