Thailand's Big Cheese

After making a fortune in the Asian pizza business, Yankee-born entrepreneur Bill Heinecke is throwing pies at a U.S. food giant

Mention Thailand, and images of coconut curries and spicy shrimp soup percolate in the mind. The country would seem an unlikely setting for a pizza war. But one of the bitterest battles in the global fast-food industry is shaping up in Thailand, and its outcome could determine not merely who dominates the pizza market in this country of 61 million but also the future of franchising agreements around Asia and beyond. "This isn't really about pizza," says William Heinecke, 51, the American-born multimillionaire franchise king and hotelier who is at the center of the conflict. "It's about competition."

Against the advice...

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