HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bank of Thailand’s policy committee maintains repurchase rate

Profits of securities firms likely to plunge in 3rd quarter

Survey concludes investor confidence on the rise

Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen received the Silver Kinnari Award for Outstanding Performance from TAT

Emirates’ New Sky chain module keeps customers updated

Bank of Thailand’s policy committee maintains repurchase rate

The Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee has decided to maintain the 14-day repurchase rate at 2%, but conceded it was ready to ease the interest policy if the economic situation deteriorated.

Bandid Nijthavorn, assistant governor of BOT’s Monetary Policy Group, said the committee agreed at last week’s meeting to keep the rate unchanged for a while. However, should the external economic situation worsen to the extent that it could affect Thailand’s economic growth; the body would not hesitate to cut the repo.

Bandid said regional and global economies have been subject to uncertainty. This is mostly due to higher oil prices and fears of a possible war between the United States and Iraq. The financial and capital markets around the world have also been volatile. Since the situation remains uncertain the BOT intends to be vigilant.

According to the BOT’s estimate, the US economy will expand at a lower rate than previously expected. This is one of the reasons the committee saw a need to maintain the repo rate for a while before making a decision on a policy change.

Bandid added that the Thailand’s economy continued to grow in the past eight months, boosted by the improved production, consumption, investment and export. The BOT’s ‘wait and see’ stance stems form figures which show that Thailand’s economy is expected to grow and will gain momentum next year. The country’s external position remains strong given high foreign currency reserves.

Recent flooding in parts of the country is expected to have little impact on the country’s general economic growth because the farming areas affected were small.

The committee concluded that estimated inflation would increase along with economic recovery, but would not exceed the target of 0-3.5%. (TNA)

Profits of securities firms likely to plunge in 3rd quarter

Analysts blame fears of a US-Iraq war and say profits from the third-quarter performance of securities brokerage firms are likely to plunge since trading volume has significantly dropped.

Capital Nomura Securities Research Division projected securities companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, excluding CNS and Siam Industrial Credit, would have combined profits of 84 million baht, down 79% from those of the second quarter of this year. The sharp decrease was attributed to the fall in an average daily trading volume by 43% to 5.74 billion baht in the third quarter from 10.07 billion baht in the previous quarter.

Normura’s research department said most securities houses remained unable to fully expand income sources and seek new business because they are short of personnel with specific skills. Under the circumstances some firms could find themselves in the red again when liberalization of brokerage fees resume in 2005.

Kim-eng Securities’ research division shared the same view. They are forecasting the performance of the securities companies will deteriorate in the third quarter. Many investors fear a possible US-Iraq war would put the US economy into recession, and that could have a negative effect on stock markets around the world. This could be witnessed by a net selling of foreign investors and a sharp decrease in the daily trading volume on the SET in the third quarter.

Seamico Securities Research Division predicted listed securities firms, excluding CNS and Seamico, would have profits of only 198 million baht, down 41% from those of the second quarter. It attributed the sharp fall in the profits to the persistent bearish sentiment on the bourse in the third quarter. (TNA)

Survey concludes investor confidence on the rise

The Board of Investment (BOI), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somkid Jatusripitak, has released the results of their 6th annual Foreign Investor Confidence Survey.

The survey is conducted in cooperation with the foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand. Two thousand questionnaires were sent to foreign companies doing business in Thailand, and the BOI received 1,210 responses, with more than 50 percent of the responses coming from Japanese companies, with significant responses from investors from Taiwan, Singapore, and the United States.

BOI Secretary General Somphong Wanapha revealed that 60 percent of respondents found the investment environment in Thailand improved from last year, and noted that 74 percent indicated they have plans to expand their investment within 2-3 years (58 percent within 2002 alone). Companies planning to expand investment see Thailand as a high-potential site that offers real opportunities to improve global competitiveness of their manufactured products.

The current administration of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra received high marks from investors, with 61 percent confident that the Thai economy would post growth of between two and four percent this year, and 77 percent expressed confidence in the administration’s capability to solve economic problems.

The survey also revealed that 65 percent of respondents expected to post higher sales this year, with 50 percent expecting higher profits than last year. Only 6.6 percent of respondents indicated that their company would be unlikely to show a profit this year.

Investors cited three areas in which they felt improvement was needed. In addition to concerns about too much paperwork associated with the administration of investment promotion incentives, the respondents indicated customs procedures and delays remained a concern, as did the perceived inflexibility of relevant agencies.

BOI Secretary General Somphong Wanapha said, “The BOI is greatly heartened by the results of the 2002 survey. The feedback from the international investment community provides us with valuable input regarding global investment trends, investor concerns, problems, and needs, and is part of our commitment to improve the overall investment environment in Thailand.”

Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen received the Silver Kinnari Award for Outstanding Performance from TAT

Ole Nielsen, general manager of Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen expressed to reporters that the hotel received the Kinnari Award from the Tourism Authority of Thailand category of Tourist Accommodation. This is the second time they received this award and are very proud to be the only hotel in Esarn Province to receive it.

Ole Nielsen, general manager of Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen and Natthaporn Rojplakorn, public relations manager, pose with the Silver Kinnari Award from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The first Tourism Award presentations took place in 1996, and have been held every 2 years to commend and publicity recognize excellence in tourist sites, accommodations, activities, projects, and mass media connected with the tourism industry, as well as to stimulate co-operation among parties to maintain and develop resources.

The Thailand Tourism Awards are very honorary awards, recognized and supported by the World Tourism and Organization (WTO), and thus have been well accepted as standards of environmental management for the Thai tourism industry.

Thailand Tourism Awards 2003, the fourth competition, judged 6 categories:

1. Award for Tourism Attractions

2. Award for Tourism Accommodation

3. Award for Tour Programs

4. Award for Conservation Organization

5. Award for Conservation Projects

6. Tourism Publicity Award

Each category was separated into 2 levels: Award for Excellence (the Gold Kinnari) and for Outstanding Performance (Silver Kinnari).

On behalf of the management and staff of Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen, Ole Nielsen said, “We are very proud that we can develop and support Thai tourism. Moreover, we can prove to our guests that we are leading in international services and standards acceptable in the hotel business. We are also the first hotel selected by the Khon Kaen governor to host and provide residence for the APEC Meeting in 2003.”

Emirates’ New Sky chain module keeps customers updated

Sky Chain, Emirates Sky Cargo’s logistics management system has taken a major step forward in making life easier for the airline’s cargo customers with the launch of a new module. Now, customers can receive automatic notification from the airline by SMS or email of the progress of a shipment.

The new module - Automatic Status Notification (ASN) - removes the need for cargo customers to access the tracking module or call the airline to find out what has happened to a shipment.

Niranjan Navaratnarajah, Emirates cargo systems and revenue planning manager said, “This new facility has phenomenal value for the busy shipper or cargo agent. Customers who have seen our demonstration are over the moon about it. A large part of a cargo agent’s day is spent finding out the status of various shipments. With Automatic Status Notification that job is now done for him. It will save him time and money.”

When an agent books a shipment on Sky Chain the customer can instruct the airline to notify him or a third party automatically by SMS or by email when the shipment has cleared the through the different stages of transportation. The menu includes Booking, Shipment Received, Customs Cleared, Notification of Consignee, Delivered, Transferred and Discrepancies.

Emirates Sky Cargo has steadily expanded Sky Chain; the world’s most advanced logistics management system, since it was first launched in 1998. The customer can chat online, print air waybills and barcodes and make claims in addition to checking schedules.

Online bookings have steadily increased since Sky Chain was launched in August of this year. More than 7,000 online bookings were made and total transactions (including trace and tracking and checking schedules) reached 53,000.