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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        10  February 2011

Thai AirAsia to list

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The low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia plans to float its shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the third quarter of 2011 to raise funds for business expansion and repay debt borrowed to buy shares from Shin Corp three years ago.

CEO Tassapon Bijleveld said the company would appoint financial advisers within two weeks for an initial public offering (IPO) of at least 25 percent of its shares.

He declined to project the amount of funds to be raised from market offering but said they would be used as working capital, a reserve for expansion, and to repay foreign banks that financed the purchases from Shin Corp.

In June 2008, Thai Air Asia executives sought about one billion baht in bank loans for buying back 50 percent shares from Asia Aviation, a joint venture set up by the telecom giant.

Last year, the carrier posted triple-digit growth in financial performance, thanks to stable oil prices. Its cabin factor topped an original forecast of 78 percent as international tourists, mainly from Europe and Asia, returned to Thailand in the final quarter. Revenue totaled 12 billion baht and net profit 2 billion.

"Foreign passengers returned to Thailand since late third quarter after concerns over political unrest in (last) April were eased, allowing us to just slightly missed a target of total passengers " Mr. Tassapon said.

Concerns for 2011 are oil and politics, he said, adding that fuel accounted for 30 percent of the total cost of TAA in 2010 when oil cost $85 to $90 a barrel. "If oil prices stay at about $100 this year, it will be manageable for us," he said.

"If everything goes smoothly, tourist arrivals to Thailand could go back to the record posted before the crisis three years ago. Consequently, revenue could increase by 20-25 percent from 2010."

In the third quarter, Thai Air Asia will introduce new routes to India.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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