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Vol. XV No. 17
Friday April 27 - May 3, 2007


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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Unilever holds Asia-wide R&D meeting at Dusit

Industry to invest Bt8 billion on pollution control at Mab Ta Phut

PTT buys out US-owned JET petrol stations

Tesco Lotus to invest Bt7bn in Thailand this year

Unilever holds Asia-wide R&D meeting at Dusit

Pictured is Marcus Wirsching (6th from left), resident manager of Dusit Resort, Pattaya, with the R&D food executives of Unilever in the region led by Lou Lievense (3rd from left), Vice President Asia, Research and Development.

The Research and Development division of Unilever in Asia recently held its Foods R&D Asia Management Conference at Dusit Resort, Pattaya with more than 100 participants from all over the region.
This was the first gathering of R&D managers in Unilever’s food categories in Asia. The conference highlighted the company’s growth objectives, the products launched in 2006, business performances in each Asia cluster as well as innovations to come in Asia in 2007 and onwards.
Senator Mechai Viravaidya was the guest speaker at the two-day conference attended by 110 executives from 15 countries in Unilever’s R&D areas - research, savory, ice cream, beverage, brewing, spread and food solutions. Unilever is a multinational company that owns many of the world’s consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products.

Industry to invest Bt8 billion on pollution control at Mab Ta Phut

Industrial operators at Mab Ta Phut Industrial Estate have agreed to invest about Bt8 billion in importing pollution control equipment and installing it at their plants near the eastern resort of Rayong, said Deputy Industry Minister Piyabutr Cholvijarn.
The state-run Board of Investment will in return offer a tax reduction on imported equipment of as much as 70 per cent for three years, said Mr. Piyabutr.
As an additional incentive, the Finance Ministry will also deduct corporate tax for industrial facilities that have invested in equipment for pollution control, at double the actual cost of the investment.
“Overall pollution must be reduced at the industrial zone”, Mr. Piyabutr said, “otherwise new plants cannot be built there as the level of environmental waste has already reached its maximum permissible level.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Kosit Panpiemras has affirmed repeatedly that he will control pollution emitted by industrial plants at Mab Ta Phut. Mr. Kosit has pledged to reduce contamination in the area in the coming months as new plants await permission to establish factories at the estate. The total investment by these new plants amounts to some Bt200 billion.
“The Ministry of Industry is planning new regulatory statutes on collecting tax on plants which release pollution and to introduce pollution control measures at Mab Ta Phut Industrial estate and at other industrial estates across the country”, said Mr. Piyabutr.
Mr. Piyabutr’s remarks were made after the non-governmental Eastern People’s Network group met last Friday and renewed its call for the government to stop pollution in Rayong and threatened to hold a major demonstration on April 28 if their demands are not met. (TNA)

PTT buys out US-owned JET petrol stations

Thailand’s PTT Plc. last week agreed to take over US-based ConocoPhillips’ entire retail oil business in Thailand valued at US$275 million, which includes all the JET-branded gasoline stations and Jiffy-branded convenience stores in the Kingdom.
PTT president Prasert Bunsumpun confirmed, after presiding over the purchase agreement, that the Thai giant would administer all 147 JET stations nationwide.
PTT, the largest oil firm in Thailand, is expected to reach a licensing agreement to use the JET/Jiffy brands for another two years in order to maintain the high operating standards of the network.
According to Mr. Prasert, PTT will set up a new subsidiary to oversee the administration of JET stations - which currently have about 3,350 employees and that it would take two years to convert JET to PTT stations.
He said the acquisition of all the American company’s stations in Thailand would save investment costs for PTT, as it had previously planned to establish another 200 major petrol stations within the next five years and would not now need to do so.
After two years of operations, PTT stations which are located near JET stations could switch to selling natural gas for vehicles while new negotiations will be held on whether Jiffy convenience stores would be retained at JET locations or be transferred to 7-Eleven, which already has an agreement with PTT, he said.
To counter criticisms by small oil operators that the JET acquisition would allow PTT to dominate the local market, Mr. Prasert said the takeover would only increase PTT’s market share by between 4 to 5 per cent, pushing it’s total market share to 35 per cent while the number of its petrol stations would rise by 147.
ConocoPhillips is an international, integrated energy company. It is the third largest integrated oil firm in the US, based on market capitalisation, oil and gas proved reserves and production; and the second largest refiner in the US. The company is known worldwide for its technological expertise in deep water exploration and production, reservoir management and exploitation. (TNA)

Tesco Lotus to invest Bt7bn in Thailand this year

Despite a slowdown in the Thai economy, UK-based hypermarket chain operator Tesco Lotus said it would invest about Bt7 billion and create 7,000 jobs in the kingdom this year, according to Jeff Adams, Tesco’s chief executive officer.
Tesco Lotus sales have dropped below target due to the prevailing poor economy, Mr. Adams said, but the company will continue to build more branches this year and will invest approximately Bt7 billion - almost the same as last year and pay about Bt250 million in higher tax than 2006. The company has said it hopes to create another 7,000 new jobs.
Tesco Lotus has recently come under fire from small local retailers who have charged that its expansion, especially upcountry, has hurt their businesses. Meanwhile the Thai government is working on a new retail business law that it hopes will satisfy both small and large retailers.
Declining to say how many branches would be opened in 2007, the Tesco executive said it would depend on his company’s applications to the Thai government.
He also denied criticisms that Tesco Lotus dominated the retail business in Thailand, saying that the firm’s market share here is around six per cent while it had helped prevent the prices of goods from rising too sharply, despite the considerable oil price increase in the past two years. (TNA)

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