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Forex reserves fall as capital outflow continues in January

A fall in Thailand's foreign reserves as of January 31 indicates the continued outflow of foreign capital.

According to Bank of Thailand data, foreign reserves at the end of the month stood at US$166.7 billion (Bt5.46 trillion), on top of a net forward position of $22.2 billion.

In the previous week, the reserves stood at $167.2 billion, while the net forward position was $22.5 billion.

Foreign investors have remained net-sellers of Thai shares. This week alone, they sold Bt13.65 billion net, including yesterday's net-sell of Bt146 million. This pushed year-to-date net sales to Bt27.32 billion.

The baht has not, however, yet reflected much of the foreign capital outflow. At 5.10pm yesterday, the currency was traded at 32.79 per US dollar, unchanged from Thursday.

Partner halts talks with LH Bank

Land and Houses Bank (LH Bank) said its potential Asian partner had asked to temporarily suspend talks on a strategic partnership deal, pending a better political situation in Thailand.

Rutt Phanijphand, chairman of the bank's executive directors, said yesterday that the potential partner had informed LH Bank that it wanted to take a wait-and-see stance at the moment, out of concern over the escalating political situation.

However, Rutt is hopeful that the partnership deal can still be sealed this year. If the deal is done, LH Bank will issue shares on a private-placement basis for the entity to become its strategic partner.

LH Bank needs a strong foreign partner to help create overseas services such as trade finance and foreign-currency transactions.

Meanwhile, LH Financial Group, the parent of LH Bank, will change the name of CIMB Securities International (Thailand) to LH Securities, which will start operating under the new name in the third quarter.



Bt3.63 bn in SME loan guarantees

Thai Credit Guarantee Corp (TCG) yesterday reported the provision of loan guarantees worth Bt3.63 billion for 1,404 small and medium-sized enterprises last month.

This forms part of its targeted guarantees worth Bt19.75 billion for 6,498 SMEs in the current quarter.

"We have tried to promote SMEs to use our loan-guarantee package and believe that will achieve the target for the first quarter," said TCG president Vallobh Tejapaibuld.



Jewellery sales plunge 20%

Jewellery and ornament sales dropped 20 per cent last month due to the fall in the number of foreign tourists, Jubilee Enterprises CEO Viroj Phonprakit said yesterday.

The prolonged political problems and the government's announcement of a state of emergency had led to a drop-off in the number of foreign visitors, which in turn had hit demand for luxury products, and especially jewellery and ornamental products, he said. Meanwhile, organisers of the "OTOP City 2013" fair - held from January 29 to February 6 at Muang Thong Thani - reported that sales had dropped by up to 50 per cent compared with the previous year's event, he added.

Central exec honoured

The "World Retail Congress Asia Pacific" has presented this year's "Lifetime Achievement Award" to Sudhitham Chirathivat, formerly executive chairman of Central Group and now executive director and chief adviser to Central Group's board of directors.

The highly prestigious award recognises an individual who has made outstanding contributions both to their own business and the wider retail industry in the Asia-Pacific.

Ian McGarrigle, chairman of the congress, said: "We are absolutely delighted to present this year's Lifetime Achievement Award to Khun Sudhitham, who has grown Central Group into one of the most successful retail businesses in Asia, and is a true inspiration to us all."

"AAA" for Toyota Leasing issue

TRIS Rating has assigned an "AAA" rating to the proposed issue of up to Bt8 billion in guaranteed debentures under the Bt60-billion medium-term debenture programme of Toyota Leasing (Thailand). TRIS has also affirmed the ratings of guaranteed debentures under the short-term debenture programmes No. 1/2556 and No. 2/2556 at "T1+". The outlook remains "stable".


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