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No extra price controls

The Commerce Ministry has agreed not to add to its price-control list during the caretaker government, as prices are expected to remain stable during the economic slowdown, even though the cost of some goods has been pushed up by the depreciation of the baht.

Caretaker Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan said 40 goods and three services would be closely monitored to ensure that consumers would not endure a higher cost of living.

The Internal Trade Department will consider adjusting the list of goods after the new government comes to power. Most prices should be unchanged during the period, but some goods may face higher costs from the weakening baht.

The ministry will carefully allow price increases, but expects the weaker currency not to cause product prices to zoom up in the short run.



MAI mobilised Bt20 bn

The Market for Alternative Investment helped mobilise nearly Bt20 billion for 60 listed companies last year.

MAI president Chanitr Charnchainarong said yesterday that Bt8.02 billion was raised through initial public offerings and the rest was through the recapitalisation of 45 companies. This shows that the MAI is an important source of funds, he said.

Last year the MAI welcomed 15 companies, driving its capitalisation up by 33 per cent to Bt177.36 billion. Average daily turnover was Bt2.26 billion.

New listed companies accounted for 28 per cent of the MAI's capitalisation.



New stake for CPF Europe

CPF Europe, an indirect 99.99-per-cent holding subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand Foods, will next month acquire an 80-per-cent stake in Belgium-based Tops Foods for 9 million euros (Bt405 million).

Founded in 1993, Tops Foods engages in the production and distribution of ready meals in Belgium. Last year, its revenue was about 12 million euros and total assets about 10.6 million euros, with production capacity of about 100,000 trays of ready meals per day.

The food-production plant of Tops Foods employs modern microwave technology to a high standard. Investment in Tops Foods will help strengthen CPF's expansion of its ready-meals production base in Europe for distribution to countries on the continent and nearby, said president and CEO Adirek Sripratak.



LVT completing Myanmar plant

After three years, LV Technology is finally completing the construction of a cement plant at a remote jungle site near the Shan State capital Taunggyi in Myanmar.

The MAI-listed engineering consulting company operates in various parts of the world.

The new plant, worth about US$75 million (Bt2.5 billion) and developed by KBZ Industries, one of the largest private business groups in Myanmar, has an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes.

The output will supply the growing demand for cement in Shan State and the central parts of Myanmar.

Myanmar's cement industry is viewed as offering strong growth potential because of the huge supply shortfall against growing demand from the construction industry.

Industry estimates put the country's current annual demand at 6.5 million tonnes against the domestic production supply of only 2.2 million tonnes at present.

This leaves a shortfall of about 4.3 million tonnes that is filled by imports mainly from Thailand plus India and Vietnam.





Tris affirms Major Cineplex rating at A-, outlook stable

Tris Rating has affirmed the company and senior debenture ratings of Major Cineplex Group Plc at "A-" with "stable" outlook.

These strengths are partially offset by Major's exposure to uncontrollable factors, such as the number of films released, film popularity, competition with other forms of entertainment and the proliferation of pirated home video products. The "stable" outlook reflects the expectation that Major will be able to maintain its leading market position in the movie exhibition industry and sustain a satisfactory level of performance.

Any further investments or dividend payments should not adversely affect the company's financial strength and liquidity. Major is the largest movie exhibitor in Thailand, with about 70 per cent of first-week box office sales.

In the first nine months of last year, the cinema exhibition and the advertising segments were the key contributors to its total revenue, at 69 per cent and 14 per cent. The other three segments each contributed about 6 per cent.

Asset Pro to advise Bangkok Sheet Meta on MAI listing

Bangkok Sheet Metal has appointed Asset Pro Management as its financial adviser in preparing to list on the Market for Alternative Investment.

The company has seen growing industrial demand in Thailand and neighbouring countries, so it has to prepare production capacity.

The fund mobilisation through the capital market is a window to help the company's expansion, Thanin Sajjaboriboon, chairman and CEO, said yesterday.

The company is preparing a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission to list on the MAI.

PTT denies news of bid for Shell's stations in Aust

PTT denied a media report yesterday that it was bidding for Royal Dutch Shell's Australian service stations, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted a senior official as saying, "We are not getting involved in the deal. We are doing nothing".

The Australian Financial Review reported the battle for Shell's Australian service stations is heating up, with three consortia in the final stages of a US$3 billion auction. It identified the three consortia involving global investors as the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Abu Dhabi Investment Council and the consortium of Macquarie Group and PTT.



Less Chinese Phuket-bound

Officials expect the number of Chinese tourists coming to Phuket to drop by 40 per cent this month, despite the fact that Chinese New Year falls on January 31.

Chinese New Year traditionally brings a boost in Chinese tourists to Thailand, but this year fewer tourists from Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, are expected to celebrate the holiday in the Kingdom.

Piyaman Tejapaiboon, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the political turmoil in Thailand posed risks to the tourism market. Normally, the country welcomes about 2.5 million foreign tourists in January.



New system at CH 7

Thailand's leading free-to-air broadcaster, BBTV Channel 7, has deployed Pilat Media's integrated business management system to manage all content, rights and media traffic across its entire broadcast operations. Besides supporting Channel 7's current broadcasts, the system provides a scalable foundation for the broadcaster to extend its operation to include new multichannel and multiplatform services into the future.

Pilat Media's IBMS Content is a highly flexible and scalable channel management system that enables media assets to be scheduled and managed throughout the broadcast lifecycle - from acquisition, rights management, planning, promo production and playout on multiple platforms through to reconciliation and finance.



Mandalay-Chiang Mai flight

Asian Wings airline will fly from Mandalay in Myanmar to Chiang Mai starting on January 29, according to an airline official. Every Wednesday, the airline will fly from Mandalay Tada-U International Airport to Chiang Mai International Airport using a ATR 72-500 aircraft.

Asia Wings currently flies to 16 destinations from Yangon with two ATR 72-500 aircraft. - Eleven Myanmar










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