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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     12  October  2011                    

Japanese firm hit by floods

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Minebea Group of Companies, one of the largest Japanese investors in Thailand, may revise its investment focus in Ayutthaya due to risks from flooding. The group, also the largest employer in Ayutthaya, has three precision bearing plants in the province, employing more than 21,000 workers.

Its production plant at Rojana Industrial Park has been inundated since Saturday and it is now protecting the remaining plants, one on Asia Highway in Uthai district and another in Bang Pa-in district.

"It's too early to mention details of a business plan revision as we have to evaluate our damage first. We have to inform our clients too. At this moment, our priority is to do everything to save the other two plants," said Vutichai Udomkarnjananan, the group's director.

The management of Minebea Thailand and workers are helping to build earthen dykes and lay sandbags around the Bang Pa-in and Uthai plants. Machines at the Uthai plant are not running as 3,000 workers focus on flood prevention work.

Initially, Minebea planned to open a fourth plant in Ayutthaya near Bang Pa-in, but that plan has been postponed until the floodwaters recede.

Mr. Vutichai said damage and losses at the Rojana plant, which is under neck-level flood waters, were estimated at almost 10 billion baht for the cost of high-tech machines, inventory and loss of sales during the flood and restoration period.

The company's 1,000 workers from Rojana have been relocated to help at other plants, particularly the main one at Bang Pa-in, which has 16,000 to 17,000 workers.

"A lot of our workers are suffering from the flood and can't travel to work. So we have rented up to 1,000 rooms for them to stay in temporarily during this difficult time," Mr. Vutichai said.

The three plants in Ayutthaya have combined capacity to produce 100 million bearings per month, worth 2 billion baht in sales. The postponed plant would add 40 million pieces of capacity.

Output is almost exclusively for export, as it holds a 60 percent market share in the global high-precision mechanical and electronic component business.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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