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December 9, 2008

Thai brewer cancels home listing again

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) said on Monday that Thai Beverage had cancelled plans to list in Bangkok because of protests by anti-alcohol activists, reported Reuters.

It is the latest failed attempt by Thailand's largest brewer and distiller to get a listing at home. Its shares are already traded in Singapore.

It had said last week it would raise 375 million baht ($10.5 million) from a share sale as part of its plans to list.

"The company has informed us that it will cancel the listing plan in Bangkok," SET President Patareeya Benjapolchai told a news conference.

"They said they understand that the country's economy has already suffered from the national conflict. Therefore, they decided to put a brake on the listing process to avoid any trouble."

A long-running political crisis has hurt business confidence and added to the problems besetting the economy, especially after a recent week-long blockade of the capital's main airports.

SCB Securities, a unit of Siam Commercial Bank , and Phatra Securities were financial advisers for the share sale.

Thai Beverage makes the country's leading beer, Chang, and top-selling Mekong whisky. It has 60 percent of the beer market and 74 percent of the spirits market in the country of 64 million.

About 250 anti-alcohol activists staged a protest in front of the stock exchange on Monday, demanding the authorities change market rules to stop alcohol-related firms getting a listing.

"We want a permanent measure to ensure that alcohol-related businesses will not be able to go public. We ask the stock exchange and the Securities Exchange Commission to impose this rule," said Kamron Chedecha, a protest leader.

Thai Beverage, owned by liquor tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, has faced repeated problems in trying to get a listing in Bangkok.

It tried in 2004 as part of plans to bring its sprawling operations under one company but gave up in the face of opposition from monks and anti-alcohol activists who said it would promote alcohol consumption in Thailand.

It decided to list instead in Singapore and made its debut in May 2006.

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