Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce
looks to Mekong region
The new president of the Chiangmai Chamber of Commerce,
Jumphol Chutima, said in his recent inaugural speech that the chamber would
focus on boosting trade and communications networks in the Mekong sub-region
and called on the government to create communications routes linking Chiang
Mai with Chiang Rai, Myanmar, Laos and China.
Jumphol said that under his presidency the chamber would
focus on giving out information to its members in order to prepare for
increased competition in services and investment in line with the World
Trade Organization (WTO) framework on free trade.
The latest technology will be used to develop the news
and information system, with companies informed of criteria, regulations and
agreements relating to international trade on a regular basis.
He added that particular attention would be paid to
shipping routes, as Thailand was at a disadvantage compared to China as
ships from Thailand had to go upstream, thus leading to higher
transportation costs. (TNA)
Profit-making TT&T still
looking for strategic partner
TT&T, formerly called Thai Telephone and
Telecommunication is the country’s third largest fixed-line operator. But
the company recently conceded it is having trouble finding a partner to
inject funds into the firm.
The company must pay 1.5 billion baht in annual interest,
or 5 percent of the overall debt of about 30 billion baht owed to a group of
creditors led by Kasikornbank.
President Pisit Leeahtam said, "We need about 5
billion baht of fresh capital, but we are having difficulty finding a
strategic partner at this time. We do, however, still have a good cash-flow
situation at the moment."
The firm plans to pay back around 6 billion baht of debt
by offering warrants to creditors in September. Pisit said, "Another
lot of warrants are planned to be offered to creditors in March 2004."
Creditors had predicted that the company would lose more
than 800 million baht last year and 900 million baht this year. But TT&T
actually made a profit of 568.57 million baht last year after losing 466.42
million baht in 2001. Most of the profit came from a currency gain of about
444 million baht and an operating profit of about 126 million baht.
TT&T plans to invest about 2 billion baht in
improving its network and launching new services, such as high-speed
Internet access. The company projects revenue growth of about 4 to 4.5
percent this year.
"More services such as incoming caller ID and
short-message services will be added because we feel this area will really
expand from now on. We now have about 1.2 million lines outside Bangkok but
have plans to add about 300,000 more this year, mainly for corporate
customers," Pisit said. (TNA)
Asian investors queue to put money in Thai SMEs
A leading broker is urging Thailand’s small and medium
enterprises to show off their potential, saying that Thai SME’s are
attracting a lot of interest from financial institutions and investors
Phitak Kittiakarasathien, general manager of IB
Securities Co. Ltd., said that financial institutions and investors from
across the region were eyeing up Thai SME’s, particularly financial
institutions from South Korea and Singapore, which were ready to invest
immediately if they found companies with sufficient growth potential.
Particularly attractive investment prospects for Asian
investors are the electronic components manufacturing industry, the food
industry, and the hotel and tourism industry, as these industries enjoy a
high level of potential and competitiveness when compared with similar
industries across the world.
Phitak denied that SME’s are currently having
difficulty in finding capital. "It’s not true that as far as SME’s
are concerned there are no sources of capital. As far as we can tell from
meetings with financial institutions and other sources of capital, each
company is ready to give financial support to SME’s, but SME’s must show
their potential and submit business plans which can pull in investors."
Bangchak Petroleum may split
businesses to privatize
20 billion baht debt to be restructured
As suggested by the Finance Ministry, debt-ridden
Bangchak Petroleum looks likely to split its businesses into retail oil and
refinery to allow a debt restructuring and privatization plan go through.
Deputy finance minister Varathep Rattanakorn said the concerned government
agencies will help the company to refinance its debts. Loans to be acquired
from local financial institutions must be guaranteed by the Finance
Bangchak Petroleum is attempting to refinance and
restructure its 20 billion baht of debt. The Thai government holds 47.87
percent of Bangchak, through the Finance Ministry, PTT owns 24.3 percent and
Krung Thai Bank owns 7.91 percent.
Bangchak Petroleum president Narong Boonyasanguan said,
"The firm suffers from a lack of effective financial structure which
has not been properly addressed."
Bangchak presently has a payable interest burden of 1.3
billion baht a year from an outstanding debt of about 20 billion baht with
an interest rate of 6.3% to 6.5% per year. (TNA)
SET chief say’s Thailand’s stock exchange will remain open
The president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)
Kittirat Na Ranong stated that Thailand’s stock market would not follow
China’s lead by closing, saying that the impact of Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on the Thai economy would be relatively small.
Noting that Thailand was not on the World Health
Organization (WHO)’s list of countries at risk from SARS, Kittirat said
that the SET had no plans to temporarily shut down. "The role of the
SET is to allow investors to trade on a continual basis, regardless of
whether the outside situation was positive or negative," he said.
China recently suspended trading on its stock exchange
for seven days in order to help contain the impact of SARS on its economy.
But the SET president said that the impact of SARS was mainly psychological,
as the disease was not only spreading in Asia.
However, Kittirat admitted that because the disease was
prevalent in China it was causing investors to see the whole Asian region in
a negative light. He urged investors to trade as usual.
His assurances were echoed by Suthep Phetakanon,
president of the Association of Securities Companies, who expressed
confidence that once it became apparent that SARS was under control, the
Thai stock market would improve.
First UHT milk factory at Chitralada Palace starts operations
The first UHT milk plant which was built in the compound
of the Royal Chitralada Palace in Bangkok as a part of a royal initiative to
aid local milk-cow raisers started operations this month.
The UHT milk plant will buy raw milk from farmers to help
them after local private UHT milk factories refused purchasing milk from
them. UHT milk producers said they use skimmed milk instead of whole milk to
cut their production costs. They claimed that they could not make profits
from using high-priced raw materials. The experimental plant will buy about
20-22 tons of raw milk from dairy farms.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the
opening ceremony of the first UHT milk plant in the Chitralada Palace on May
8, Thailand’s Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day.
The royal initiative to produce UHT milk will not only
provide consumers with high quality milk, but also pave the way for what is
expected to be a promising dairy business.
Chitralada UHT milk will be firstly distributed to school
MOC may put precious stones
under price control law
It has been suggested that the Commerce Ministry come up
with a plan to put precious stones and ornaments on the list of products
under the price control law. Deputy Commerce Minister Wattana Muangsuk said
the plan was initiated in response to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s
move to supervise the business.
The industry has suffered from a barrage of complaints
from tourists claiming they are being sold gemstones at outrageously
inflated prices. Thaksin expressed concern that the malpractice could have a
negative impact on the nation’s tourism and called for a proposal which
would regulate the price of precious stones.
Under the proposal, precious stones and ornaments would
be categorized as a product under the price control act on goods and
services which would enable authorities to monitor the business more
Wattana said if the premier gives the nod, the ministry
would propose the matter to the Central Committee on Product Prices and
Services for consideration and approval. (TNA)
The Eastern Seaboard German Language Business Lunch Club meets at Royal Cliff Beach Resort
The Eastern Seaboard German Language Business Lunch Club
(GBL) met at Royal Cliff Beach Resort on April 26. Christel Pilz, GBL
initiator who usually presides over the meetings, was traveling for business
reasons and asked Walter Kretschmar to take the chair, and Walter filled in
Eastern Seaboard German Language Business Lunch Club (GBL) met at Royal
Cliff Beach Resort on April 26.
Peter Malhotra, MD of Pattaya Mail and Pattaya
Blatt and GM of Chiangmai Mail, was invited to be the club’s
guest speaker. Peter, known for his loquaciousness, this time addressed the
gathering in the German language. Fluent and funny, he delighted members and
invited guests with two subjects dear to his heart - Pattaya City and the
Peter told his audience how the city and the whole
Eastern Seaboard developed from a cluster of sleepy fishing villages and
plots of agricultural land and fruit orchards into a pulsating metropolis
and an important center of the Thai economy.
Some members had heard this story before, but it was much
more interesting for them to hear it from somebody who was ‘there’ at
the beginning, since most of the audience has only been in the region for a
Peter went on to discuss some of the problems business
people had to face in the beginning - about their fight to make Pattaya a
better place, their efforts to put Pattaya on the world map, and how hard
they worked to change the city’s sleazy, low-life reputation into one of
respectability and a world-class tourist destination.
Recounting how the Pattaya Mail was founded nearly
10 years ago, Peter explained, "I wanted to give Pattaya its own voice.
I was sick and tired of reading in the national newspapers only about
Pattaya when there was something bad to report. You won’t believe it now,
but Pattaya Mail had to face lots of problems at the beginning. Many
people predicted that we wouldn’t make it through the first year."
With a smile he added, "And there were many times we almost believed it
ourselves. But we never gave up and now the Pattaya Mail has readers
across the globe."
Talking about Pattaya Blatt, Peter expressed pride
in publishing a German language newspaper which has run smoothly. Smiling
again, he said, "I never dreamed in a million years that I would start
out as a tailor and become the publisher of three successful
In his address to the audience, Walter Kretschmar said
the German business community should use the press to express their beliefs,
to introduce their businesses and to strengthen their image. He suggested
that they stress the word German in their businesses as reminders of German
quality and workmanship. "This good image will also to help the
exchange of ideas between German and Thai business partners,"
As always The Royal Wing and its resident manager Nick Bauer provided
gracious service, pampered the guests with champagne sponsored by Ambrose
Wines and served a delicious meal.
Property business still looks
promising this year
The property business will remain a sunrise sector in the
following eight months of this year given low interest rates and a possible
appraisal price adjustment, according to an industry executive.
Banyong Visetmongkok, president of Commercial Bangkok
Asset Management Co, said the property business outlook in the remaining
eight months was more promising that in the first four months of this year.
"People’s purchasing power continues to be high as
local interest rates stay low and offshore interest rates are unlikely to
increase in the short run. The low interest rates are a key factor that
accelerates people’s decision to buy new or old houses. Those who already
have purchasing power won’t hesitate to decide on the matter because they
can pay only 10,000 baht in monthly installments for the purchase of a house
priced at 2 to 3 million baht," Banyong said.
Bangyong also attributed the bright outlook of the
property business to commercial banks’ efforts to accelerate the provision
of housing loans and the easing of the United States-led war on Iraq. The
SARS outbreak had little impact on the property business. News that the
government would adjust appraisal prices and no longer extend tax
impediments for property business transactions is expected to accelerate
people’s decision to buy houses. (TNA)
Clothing exporters urged
to turn crisis into opportunity
Clothing exporters and state agencies concerned should
try to distinguish their products from those of rivals and seek new
destinations following the easing of the United States-led war on Iraq and
the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus epidemic, according to Thai
Farmers Research Center (TFRC).
Thailand’s leading think tank said the war and the SARS
outbreak had impeded the export of ready-to-wear clothes. Now the direction
of clothing exports will depend on whether exporters and state agencies can
turn the crisis into an opportunity to reap maximum benefits.
TFRC said they could assure trading partners that
Thailand was free of the epidemic of the deadly pneumonia. Simultaneously,
they should increase efforts to develop unique products and distinguish them
from those of rivals where production costs are cheaper and try to expand
markets into new destinations including the Middle East instead of relying
mainly on the United States, European Union, and Japan.
They should also pay greater attention to exporting the
product to other member countries of ASEAN with which Thailand had a free
TFRC said Thai clothes were generally of better quality
than those of other ASEAN members. With the agreement, the Thai clothes
would be more competitive in the intra-ASEAN market and non-member