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MANUFACTURING SEEN AS 2014 ECONOMY'S DRIVER

Industry Ministry permanent secretary Witoon Simachokedee foresees an increasing role of the manufacturing sector in driving the economy next year, in line with forecasts of export recovery.

The ministry will focus on enhancing competitiveness.

Still, he acknowledged that some private investment had been delayed, awaiting the political situation to clear up. He is still confident that if there is no violence, investors will maintain their interest in Thailand.

AIRPORTS' EXPANSION TO GO ON

Airports of Thailand is proceeding with its airport-expansion plans, despite the political impasse that may continue into the new year.

AOT chairman Sita Divari said the expansion of Phuket and Suvarnabhumi airports would continue. He noted that the number of passengers had dropped a bit since political demonstrations started early last month, by less than 10 per cent from same period last year.

At an analysts' meeting yesterday, AOT showed that the number of passengers at its six international airports nationwide totalled 86.13 million in the 2013 fiscal year, ending October. This was a 20.43-per-cent increase year on year. AOT's net profit in the year rose by 151.51 per cent to Bt16.35 billion.

NOKSCOOT JV AIRLINE PLANNED

Nok Air and Singapore Airline's budget carrier Scoot signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a new low-cost airline. Named NokScoot, the 51:49 venture will operate medium- and long-haul international routes out of Don Mueang International Airport. It will require initial investment of Bt2 billion.

"We are excited at the prospect of expanding Nok's presence overseas, and to be doing so with the assistance of Scoot. It has always been Nok's goal to offer Thais more choice and more value, of which this venture is yet another example. We're also excited at the opportunity to encourage more inbound tourists, to boost the Thai economy," said Nok Air CEO Patee Sarasin.

Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson hopes to develop a new market segment and offer Thai consumers and travellers to Thailand more travel options.

Scoot has also formed partnerships in Taiwan and India as demand for budget travel grows across Asia.

Meanwhile, Jetstar yesterday launched a Melbourne-Phuket flight, as the first non-stop low-fare services between the two destinations.

GH BANK TRIMS RATES

The Government Housing Bank has lowered interest rates for lending and deposits by 0.15 percentage point and 0.25 percentage point respectively, effective yesterday. After the adjustment, the minimum retail rate (MRR) has fallen to 6.975 per cent, the minimum loan rate is 6.875 per cent and the minimum overdraft rate (MOR) 7.375 per cent.

The savings-deposits rate is now 1.875 per cent per annum, while the rates for a one-, two-, three- and five-year fixed deposit accounts have been cut to 2.625 per cent, 2.875 per cent, 3 per cent and 3.25 per cent per annum respectively.

GCAP LISTS TODAY ON MAI

G Capital, which offers hire-purchase (lease to own) of agricultural machines, will today list on the Market for Alternative Investment with market capitalisation of Bt540 million.

GCAP is the 13th company to listed on the MAI this year. The funds it raises from the capital market will be used for working capital and business expansion.

GCAP is a joint venture between Song Nam Co and the Government Housing Bank to help farmers access funding easily. The company had an initial public offering from November 26-28 at the price of Bt2.7 per share. It mobilised Bt135 million from the IPO.


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