Economy January 25, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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AWN debenture issue approved by AIS board

The board of Advanced Info Service has given its approval to AIS wholly owned subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) to issue and offer senior unsecured debentures with tenor not exceeding 10 years and value not exceeding Bt20 billion.
According to its filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand on Thursday, the debentures will be offered to retail investors and/or private placement and/or local institutional investors and/or foreign institutional investors and/or high-net-worth investors and/or directors and management of AIS. 
The issuance is to raise funds for capital expenditure and/or working capital of AWN.
The details of the issuance will be considered by the authorised directors of AWN and will be reported to the SET thereafter.
AWN is one of three holders of a 2.1-gigahertz spectrum licence of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission for third-generation cellular service.
Mindshare gets new boss
Pathamawan Sathaporn has been promoted to managing director of media agency Mindshare Thailand. 
Pathamawan, currently head of business planning for the firm, will replace Nilufar Fowler, who has been appointed to lead Mindshare’s Unilever account on a global level.
Pathamawan joined Mindshare in 2006 from Lowe Thailand, where she was vice president for strategic planning. She has a breadth of experience with a variety of brands ranging from consumer goods to luxury brands.
TRIS rates Ch Karnchang
TRIS Rating has affirmed the company and existing senior debenture ratings of Ch Karnchang at “BBB+” and has assigned the rating of “BBB+” to CK’s proposed issue of up to Bt3 billion in senior debentures.
CK plans to use the proceeds from the new debentures to repay maturing debts and for business expansion. 
TRIS has also revised CK’s rating outlook to “positive” from “stable” to reflect the company’s improved leverage position and financial flexibility after reorganising group businesses, which allowed the company to realise market value of the shareholding in Thai Tap Water Supply, enhance marketability of the shareholding in CK Power, and mitigate concerns over financial support for Bangkok Metro.
AirAsia flies to Changsha
AirAsia’s inaugural flight from Bangkok to Changsha, capital of south-central China’s Hunan province, took off yesterday, reflecting its confidence in the potential of the China market in the long run, said Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia. 
Changsha is AirAsia’s ninth destination in China, and the inaugural flight had a load factor of more than 70 per cent, which is an acceptable number considering Thailand’s current circumstances, he said. 
 The CEO said that while Chinese travellers might be thinking twice about visit the Kingdom, the overall market of visitors from that country had remained strong, and Thailand had retained its place among the top destinations for Chinese tourists.  
He pointed out that on the new route’s first flight, 80 per cent of passengers were Chinese citizens. 
Apart from Bangkok, AirAsia has also been promoting other destinations in the Kingdom to Chinese visitors such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi, while also recommending its Fly-Thru service, which allows for quick and convenient connections to even more destinations via Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport.
Bali attracts 3.27m tourists 
Bali exceeded its target of attracting 3.1 million foreign tourists last year, as the number of direct foreign-tourist arrivals to the island reached 3.27 million.
The provincial Tourism Agency this week released the official data on the number of foreign tourists visiting Bali from January to December 2013, which amounted to 3,278,697 people. The figure was an increase of 13.37 per cent from the total number of direct foreign-tourist arrivals in 2012, which reached 2,892,019.
“It surpassed our target of 3.1 million. The percentage achievement reached 103 per cent,” said agency head Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, confirming the data. 
He highlighted that the overall performance for tourism last year was very progressive, thanks to efforts to improve infrastructure and other supporting factors.
The data showed that the highest arrival numbers throughout the year were in August, reaching 309,219 people, followed by September with 305,629 people.
All the major contributing countries and regions showed positive growth, with the top 10 being Australia, mainland China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, France, Britain and the United States. Australia remains at the top, contributing 25.2 per cent, or 826,388 visitors, to the total arrivals, followed by China in second place with 387,533 visitors, a share of 11.82 per cent of total arrivals. – The Jakarta Post
Fitch affirms FNS ratings, outlook negative   
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Thailand-based non-bank financial institution Finansa Public Company Limited’s (FNS) national long-term rating at ‘BBB-(tha)’ with a negative outlook. It also affirmed the company’s national short-term rating at ‘F3(tha)’. 
FNS’s ratings reflect its relatively small size, weaker performance, and lack of institutional support compared with other non-bank financial institutions in Thailand rated by Fitch. However, the ratings are supported by its reasonable presence in the financial advisory and securities businesses, and its moderate leverage. 
There have been improvements in FNS’s leverage and liquidity, but a sustainable track record is not yet evident. A continuation of these positive trends would see a revision of the Outlook to Stable. This is balanced by the vulnerability of FNS’s underlying earnings to an industry downturn.
FNS’s equity structure has strengthened following capital increases in December 2012 and May 2013, which totalled Bt 378 million  and is evidence of continued support from key shareholders. On a standalone basis, the ratio of total liabilities to total equity has improved to 0.46x at end-September 2013, from 1.35x in end-2011. 
The group’s financial performance also improved in the first three quarters of 2013, helped by its securities and investment banking businesses. As a result, FNS has returned to profitability, with a consolidated net income of THB 6.5 million 9M 2013 (compared to a loss of THB 34.0 million in 2012). However, Thai financial markets are volatile and competitive, and industry conditions have worsened over the past several months. – The Nation
Central bank to continue work at back-up centre
The Bank of Thailand announced yesterday that it would maintain operations at its back-up centre next week.
   During January 27-31, the banknote division will operate from two sites: Krung Thai Bank’s Central Plaza Pin Klao and Si Ayutthaya branches. 
   The central bank has operated out of its headquarters in the Bang Khunphrom area since January 13.
   The Monetary Policy Committee this week arranged its regular meeting on January 22 at a facility on Buddha Mondhol 7 Road.
Thai Airways lost Bt14 bn last year, source says
Thai Airways International lost Bt14 billion last year, including a Bt10-billion foreign-exchange loss and depreciation costs, an anonymous director said.
After a board meeting yesterday, the source said the remaining loss stemmed from higher operating expenses amid fiercer competition and sluggish global demand. THAI is maintaining its target of Bt5 billion net profit this year, he said.
Acting president Chokchai Panyayong said yesterday that in 2013, the number of passengers rose by 4.6 per cent year on year to 20 million. However, because of the delivery of 17 aircraft, the cabin factor dropped by 2.5 per cent to 74.1 per cent.
THAI chairman Ampon Kittiampon said after the board meeting yesterday that the airline posted an increase of 6.8 per cent on its ASK (available seats per kilometre) rate last month, with a cabin factor equivalent to 70.4 per cent, which was lower than the 78.3 per cent it posted in December 2012. 
The airline also served 1.78 million passengers last month, down 7.3 per cent from 1.92 million in December 2012. The reduction was a result of political unrest and more intense competition among airlines, as well as the new anti-zero-fare tourism law imposed by the Chinese government, which has significantly affected tour prices and reduced the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand. 
Thai Smile posted a cabin factor of 70.2 per cent last month, lower than the 85.7 in December 2012. The lower cabin factor was a result of an increase in the airline’s routes both domestically and abroad. Thai Smile also had an average cabin factor of 74.1 per cent for the year, down from 76.6 per cent in 2012.
The THAI board also approved a budget for the annual increase of employees’ salaries as proposed by the management.
EPPO wants to see study on oil, cooking gas retail trade 
The Energy Policy and Planning Office of the Energy Ministry has urged the Petroleum Institute of Thailand to submit the preliminary conclusion of its study of the appropriate marketing margins of the oil and cooking-gas retail businesses for its analysis and for forwarding to the Energy Policy Administration Committee soon.
Petroleum Institute deputy director Reungsak Thitiratsakul said the study was 90 per cent complete and it held hearings with focus groups on Tuesday. It is waiting for retailers of oil and gas to propose appropriate margins. The study is expected to be completed next month.