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DEAL EYES CANCER DRUGS FOR ALL

In recent years it has become rare to see Dr Sanoh Unakul, 83, coming out into the spotlight, but he will host a press conference tomorrow to announce an important technology-transfer contract that Siam Bioscience will clinch with Cuba's Centre of Molecular Immunology.

Sanoh, one of Thailand's most respected technocrats in the 1980s, is chairman of Siam Bioscience, a joint venture formed between CPB Equity - the Crown Property Bureau's investment arm - and Mahidol University, to spearhead Thailand's progress in biotechnology. Managing director Dr Songpon Deechongkit said the deal, which represents the first ever pharmaceuticals research and development contract between Thailand and Cuba, will focus on using advanced biotechnology to produce quality cancer drugs that are effective and affordable for all Thais, as well as for other Asean consumers.

Former SCG Chemical president Apiporn Pasawat is chairman of the executive board of Siam Bioscience.

"REP" HOTEL?

Siam Commercial Bank's representative office in Myanmar, which was opened two years ago, is preparing to upgrade to a commercial bank once the regulator allows foreign lenders to offer complete banking services. Acting as a "REP", SCB cannot facilitate any services that bring in a healthy income, acknowledged Manop Sangiambut, executive vice president and head of International Banking Business. At the "SCB First" seminar last week, Manop told SCB customers - most of whom are SMEs looking for opportunities in Myanmar - that finding a hotel with reasonable prices is not easy in the country. Even a two-star hotel room in Myanmar starts at US$100-150 (approximately Bt3,200-Bt4,800) per night.

Thai SMEs need time to look for opportunities in Myanmar, and the cost of hotel rooms is too high, he said. To help save costs, the upper floor of SCB's REP has a nine-room serviced apartment offered free of charge to SCB customers. Manop claimed the apartments are of four-star quality.

If SCB can't get revenue from its REP, maybe the bank should think about seeking a healthy return from its accommodations catering to Thais.

DISPOSABLE OFFERING FOR DEVA

Kraiserm Tohtubtiang, marketing director of Kuang Pei San Food Products Plc, said packaged milk is selling very well in Myanmar because people like to bring it to pay their respects to the "Whisper Deva" (Mya Nan Nwe) at the Botahtaung Pagoda in Yangon. Unlike other offerings that one can bring back for consumption, every milk container is opened as a straw is put in - obviously to make it easy for the Deva to consume.

Since his firm has no plan to diversify into the dairy business, Kraiserm said he was searching for a Myanmar Deva that would love to have canned seafood, which would enable sales of Kuang Pei San Food Products to rival those of any dairy producer in the country.

ROSY JAM

Executives at Doi Kham Food Products are quite excited that, if all tests are passed, the firm is going to launch a new product - Rose Petal Jam - onto the local market shortly. Doi Kham's new jam, which will use real ingredients from rose petals, not just its fragrance, is perhaps the first of its kind to be locally produced.


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