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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        11  June  2011

THAI privatization now off

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Thai Airways International yesterday derailed plans to reduce state ownership and gradually scale back government guarantees for loans taken out by the flag carrier.

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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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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