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THAI vows improvement in wake of huge loss last year

Thai Airways International Plc yesterday vowed to make herculean efforts to improve its financial performance by boosting sales and cutting costs after suffering a humiliating Bt12 billion loss last year.

Chokchai Panyayong, THAI's executive vice president for strategy and business development and acting president, told the shareholders meeting yesterday that this year the airline would manage its operations to be more real time in order to survive in the changing business environment.

The troubles with the workforce will be solved and job efficiency will be improved.

Last year, THAI's sales were Bt206.33 billion. Its net loss was blamed on foreign exchange losses, the political turmoil and a big drop in Chinese visits after mainland China enacted a law curbing zero-dollar outbound tours.

The meeting was dominated by strong criticism over mismanagement by Ampon Kittampon, who resigned as chairman last February. They also opposed his return to the board. What he did made the national carrier face the biggest loss in its 54 years of operation, they said.

Once the meeting started, its atmosphere got unpleasant. A shareholder called for other shareholders to leave the room, saying the meeting should be held after political reform is completed and a new government is formed.

Jasmine to stick with 3BB brand

Jasmine International has no interest in getting into the saturated cellular market and will continue to concentrate on its main business, broadband Internet, CEO Pete Bodharamik said yesterday.

Jasmine is in talks with Total Access Communication on allowing its customers to use its 3BB Wi-Fi service on a partnership basis. Jasmine once had this kind of partnership with Advanced Info Service.

The company targets 1.7 million 3BB subscribers this year, up from the current 1.4 million. It has budgeted Bt1.5 billion-Bt2 billion for expanding its broadband network. Of its customers, 20,000 are on its fibre-optic network.

Eco-car scheme II under study

Witoon Simachokdee, permanent secretary of the Industry Ministry, said yesterday that Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk last Friday appointed the working committee to give initial consideration to phase II of the government's eco car scheme.

He said 10 carmakers have submitted their interest. They are five players continuing from the first phase - Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Toyota - and four new players - Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen.

They are expected to invest Bt138.8 billion for production capacity of about 1.5 million cars.

IRPC plans Bt15-bn bond issue

IRPC plans to offer Bt15 billion in unsubordinated debentures of three, five and seven years.

The coupon rates are 3.96 per cent, 4.50 per cent and 4.96 per cent, respectively. Interest is payable every six months.

Proceeds from the issue will be used for refinancing debentures and loans and for replenishing working capital. The debentures are rated "A-" by Fitch Ratings (Thailand).

Trade fair showcases auto parts, accessories

The "Thailand Auto Parts & Accessories" trade fair has begun at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Bitec) in Bang Na.

The event was organised by the Department of International Trade Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with leading Thai automobile associations and organisations. There are 468 automobile and related companies from around the world exhibiting their latest innovations in 863 booths in Halls 101-104 of Bitec. The event began on Monday and ends tomorrow.

Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of department, said her agency had coordinated with automotive enterprises in Thailand, mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the United States, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and others to organise the event.

"We wanted to make it big this year as we prepare for the Asean Economic Community as well as taking advantage of the opening up of markets and investments granting Thai entrepreneurs more opportunities to expand trade between member countries," she said.

"Asean is considered a huge and up-and-coming market for global trade. More than 16,000 visitors and around Bt800 million in circulation are expected during the course of this four-day event."

Distribution centre opens

Central FamilyMart Co has launched a new distribution centre in the Eastern region to support this year's sales target of Bt17 billion and facilitate its plan to increase the number of FamilyMart stores to 3,000 by 2017.

FamilyMart has 1,079 stores nationwide and plans to establish more than 300 new branches this year. As a result, the company needs to improve the efficiency

of its warehouse and logistics system to facilitate the increased product distribution. The new distribution centre is at TPARK Sriracha.

Central FamilyMart has rented warehouse space of 5,850 square metres at the industrial park in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district.

The centre will be responsible for distribution of retail and consumer products to more than 300 FamilyMart stores in the Eastern region in Chon Buri, Pattaya and Rayong.

FWD licensed in Philippines

Hong Kong-based FWD Group has been granted a licence to operate its life-insurance business in the Philippines. FWD Life Insurance Corporation is the first foreign life-insurance company since 2004 to have been issued a licence by the Insurance Commission of the Philippines.

FWD successfully sought the licence after amendments to the Philippines Insurance Code last year. FWD Group CEO Huynh Thanh Phong, alongside a newly established local senior management team, will drive the growth of the business and develop products and services relevant to the local community.

The company aims to launch in the Philippines market later this year.

Etihad, PAL ink MoU

Etihad Airways and Philippine Airlines have signed a memorandum of understanding that marks a new era of cooperation between the two flag carriers.

The MoU lays the foundation for a renewed partnership agreement that will deliver a compre-hensive range of commercial benefits to the airlines and their customers, according to Etihad, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

Included in its scope are code-sharing, frequent-flyer reciprocity, airport lounge access, air-pass agreements, and cargo cooperation.

Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer James Hogan said the MoU with Philippine Airlines was an important milestone in the long-standing relationship between the two carriers as well as ties between Abu Dhabi and the Philippines.

"Etihad Airways and Philippine Airlines have a history of successful cooperation on the Abu Dhabi-Manila route," he said.


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