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Visa, CB Bank offer Myanmar travellers new card

Visa and Co-operative Bank yesterday launched the CB Bank EASI Travel Visa card for Myanmar customers to use when travelling overseas for business and leisure.

The card can hold up to three currencies (euros, US dollars and Singapore dollars) at one time, and is designed to meet the needs of the growing segment of Myanmar nationals who are travelling abroad.

It can be used for overseas transactions anywhere Visa is accepted - at tens of millions of merchants, either online or in-store, as well as to withdraw cash at 2 million automated teller machines worldwide, said Somboon Krobteeranon, Visa country manager for Myanmar and Thailand.

Ecu-Line gets new US foothold

Ecu-Line Thailand expects to triple its shipments between the Kingdom and the United States after completion of its parent firm's takeover deal of Econocaribe.

Ecu-Line, part of the Avvashya Group headquartered in India, last month announced it was acquiring a 100-per-cent interest in the United States' third-largest less-than-container-load (LCL) consolidator Econocaribe, enlarging its foothold in the US market. The group expects its market in both the US and Canada to triple.

Viraj Nobnomtham, managing director of Ecu-Line (Thailand) Co, said the company next year would add more pick-up and drop-off points for shipments at Laem Chabang deep-sea port and more Bangkok-Laem Chabang transport routes to serve its clients.

Currently, Ecu-Line Thailand's market shares by volume are Europe 30 per cent, Asia 65 per cent, the US 1 per cent and others 4 per cent. Of the Asia market, China accounts for 70 per cent.

GroupM to buy Vocanic stake

GroupM, the media investment management arm of advertising giant WPP, has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Vocanic, a leading social-media marketing business in Asia.

Based in Singapore with offices in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, Vocanic is a full-service social-media marketing firm. Vocanic has 70 people providing social-media strategy consulting, social technology, social-media program and campaign management, community management and social-media analytics.

Toray builds up SE Asia base

Toray Industries will spend billions of yen to strengthen its fibre and textile business in Southeast Asia, upgrading facilities in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to produce highly functional fibre and adding or building sewing bases in Myanmar, Cambodia and elsewhere, according to Nikkei.

With the push, Toray plans to achieve its long-term goal of generating 1 trillion yen (Bt310 billion) in sales and 70 billion yen in operating profit in the textile segment in 2016, four years ahead of schedule, president Akihiro Nikkaku said.

For this fiscal year, the fibre and textile business is expected to see an 18-per-cent sales gain to 750 billion yen, boosting its operating profit 27 per cent to 55 billion yen and contributing to strong company-wide results.

Toray will upgrade synthetic-fibre facilities in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia by fiscal 2016 for the purpose of manufacturing highly functional fibre previously made in Japan. These perspiration-absorbing, quick-drying fabrics are generating "strong demand among major sporting-goods makers in the US and Europe", Nikkaku said, adding that Toray aimed to mass-produce them in Southeast Asia.

For the apparel business, group unit Toray International will open sewing facilities in Myanmar and Vietnam and is considering setting up shop in Cambodia and Laos. It will also step up outsourcing to local sewing companies, ensuring stable supplies to clothiers in the United States and Europe as well as in its home market.

Foreigners sell more Thai shares after losses on Wall Street

Foreign investors dumped more Thai shares yesterday in line with the regional sell-off after losses on Wall Street and ahead of next week's key US Federal Reserve policy meeting.

Investors are waiting for the results of the two-day Fed meeting, with speculation rife that the central bank will announce a cut in its US$85 billion-a-month bond-purchasing scheme.

A bipartisan budget deal in Washington fuelled hopes that another government shutdown will be averted next month. That is expected to give the Fed more room to wind down the bond-buying scheme. In the Stock Exchange of Thailand, foreign net-sales reached Bt3.5 billion. This brought net-buys this month to Bt29 billion and net-buys so far this year to Bt182.46 billion. At 1,356.21 points, down 13.14 points from the previous closing, the SET Index is 1.62 per cent lower than its end-2012 level.

"There's still not much clarity on the policy front, so investors stayed on the sidelines before the conclusion of the meeting," BOC International analyst Shen Jun told Agence France-Presse.

Flat growth in Thai film industry

The Thai film industry expects stagnant growth in terms of revenue this year due partly to the impact of continuing political tension in the current quarter, says GMM Tai Hub (GTH), a leading movie company.

GTH president Visute Poolvoralaks said Thai filmmakers would see no growth in earnings this year and revenue would be on par with last year's Bt1.1 billion. In previous projections, growth of 10- 20 per cent had been anticipated.

The slump was also a result of the lower number of Thai movies, from 50 titles in 2012 to 34 this year.

In the Bt4-billion film industry, revenue from Thai movies accounts for 30 per cent while the rest comes from international films.

Although local filmmakers were suffering from these negative factors, international film distributors were still enjoying growth, Visute said.

Faucet maker sets IPO price

Ocean Commerce, a manufacturer of faucets under the Duss brand, has set an initial public offering price of Bt0.90 per share with 75 million shares.

The company will open the IPO to bookings from December 16-18.

Ocean Commerce plans to spend Bt40 million of the new capital to expand its production capacity, with the remaining Bt50 million as working capital, said its financial adviser, Asset Pro Management Co CEO Sompop Sakpanpanom.

Thai Smile flies to Luang Prabang

Thai Smile, a business unit of Thai Airways International, will start flying to Luang Prabang, with four weekly flights from Sunday onwards.

Chokchai Panyayong, THAI's senior executive vice president for commercial affairs, said this new route would support the economies and tourism industries of Thailand and Laos.

Luang Prabang has become popular with tourists for its ancient culture and relaxed lifestyle. It has won a Unesco award for "The Best Preserved City in Southeast Asia" and is registered as a World Heritage City. It is the site of many old temples and colonial homes.

Thai Smile's introductory fare is Bt7,300 including taxes and surcharges for a round-trip ticket. There is a limited number of special-fare tickets.

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