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)
Asian investors queue to put money in Thai SMEs
A leading broker is urging Thailandís small and medium
enterprises to show off their potential, saying that Thai SMEís 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 SMEís, 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 SMEís are currently having
difficulty in finding capital. "Itís not true that as far as SMEís
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 SMEís, but SMEís must show
their potential and submit business plans which can pull in investors."
Profit-making TT&T still looking for strategic partner
TT&T, formerly called Thai Telephone and
Telecommunication is the countryís 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)
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)