ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
THAI privatization now off
Chairman Ampon Kittiampon said after a board meeting that now was not the right time for the caretaker government to be pursuing "policy matters" in light of the July 3 general election.
He also insisted there was no policy for the Finance Ministry to cut its stake in the airline to 49.99 percent from 51.03 percent, ending THAI's state enterprise status.
"To the best of my knowledge, THAI management is not considering any share restructuring," he told reporters.
THAI president Piyasvasti Amranand on Thursday indicated the ministry would sell a 1.04 percent share to the Crown Property Bureau to support a bid to end the carrier's legal status as a state enterprise.
THAI management favours ending state enterprise status in order to give the airline greater flexibility in setting and executing strategy in the face of heavy competition in the industry.
While saying that shareholders had the right to do whatever they wanted with their shares, Dr Ampon insisted that any change in shareholding structure would require prior consultation with all stakeholders including the airline's union and employees. "We need to be transparent on this issue in line with good governance rules," he said, trying to calm employees' fears that transformation from a state enterprise would affect job security and benefits.
But he supported the THAI management's plan to gradually reduce the requirement for state guarantees for loans, giving the airline more flexibility in financing without being constrained by bureaucracy such as public debt limitations.
The plan calls for THAI to reduce the state guarantee to represent 25 percent of loans, down from 51 percent currently, and to end all guarantees within 6-7 years.
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