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GSB TOLD TO CONDUCT LOAN-SHARK STUDY



The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has ordered the Government Savings Bank (GSB) to conduct a study on helping more than a million people burdened by informal debts. The study is to be concluded by the end of this month.

Thatchapol Kanchanakul, GSB deputy director, met with deputy junta chief Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong, head of economic affairs for the NCPO, who ordered the bank to conduct the study on rescuing people from loan sharks.

MOU FOR NEW JETS

AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of Asia's largest low-cost airline, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 50 A330-900neo aircraft.

The agreement sees the airline become one of the first customers for the latest version of the best-selling wide-body. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2018.

The agreement was signed at the Farnborough International Airshow in England by Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X, and Fabrice Bregier, president and CEO of Airbus. It was witnessed by Tony Fernandes, co-founder and director of AirAsia X, Rafidah Aziz, chairman of AirAsia X and John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer.

"We have been encouraging Airbus to launch this new version of the A330 for some time now," Fernandes said. "I am pleased that they are offering this choice and bringing us the aircraft we truly need to develop further our low-cost long-haul model. We are 100 per cent sure that the A330neo will be quite unbeatable in its size category and we look forward to enabling more people to fly further more often aboard this great aircraft."

25 BANKS SHORTLISTED

Twenty-five foreign banks have progressed to the next round in their quest to be licensed by the Central Bank of Myanmar.

The 25 banks were selected from the total of 30 that had vied for the licences and had pre-qualified.

Currently, 42 foreign banks have representative offices in Myanmar. Several leading international banks with Myanmar representative offices are absent from the list of 25, including Standard Chartered and South Korea's Hana Bank and Woori Bank. - MYANMAR ELEVEN



HSBC PREDICTS GDP GROWTH AT 1.4%, DOWN FROM 3%

HSBC has lowered its forecast for Thailand's economic growth this year to 1.4 per cent, from an earlier projection of 3.0 per cent, because of the weaker-than-expected recovery of both domestic demand and exports in the earlier part of the year.

This was indicated by the 0.6-per-cent year-on-year contraction of GDP in the first quarter, said Nalin Chutchotitham, economist at HSBC's Bangkok branch.

Conversely, HSBC is turning more positive on the longer term, expecting 5-per-cent growth next year. This is based on a resurgence in domestic spending, which was held down by political uncertainties, as well as improved export growth. The forecast hinges on assumptions that political stability will be maintained and that the government continues to address the country's key structural challenges, including declining competitiveness and high household debt.

The forecast is part of an HSBC Global Research paper on Asian macroeconomics in the third quarter of the year. The bank also expects the Bank of Thailand to maintain its policy interest rate at 2.00 per cent until early 2015.

ORGANIC EXPORTS TARGETED

The Commerce Ministry expects Thailand to increase its share of the global market for organic agricultural products from the current export level of Bt3.1 billion to Bt4 billion in the next few years.

The ministry will encourage more farmers to grow organic crops as well as increase added value to organic goods. It will also regularly hold fairs to increase trading opportunities for Thai farmers and traders.

Boonyarit Kalayanamit, inspector-general of the Commerce Ministry, said the country had high potential to boost sales of organic products because they are in high demand in the world market, particularly in the United States, in the European Union, and among emerging high-incomes consumers in China.

The ministry reported that the value of the global trade in organic products was about US$64 billion (Bt2 trillion) currently. The US is the largest market for such products, valued at almost Bt1 trillion, followed by the EU.

The ministry will host the "Organic and Natural Expo" from July 24-27 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok. More than 200 exhibitors will join in, with a target of 50,000 local and foreign visitors. The ministry targets about Bt15 million in immediate sales during the exhibition.

EGCO GETS STAKE IN RP PLANT

Electricity Generating (Egco) has completed the acquisition of a 40.95-per-cent indirect stake in the Philippines' Masinloc Power Partners Co (MPPCL) from Singapore-based AES Phil Investment. The transaction was finalised on Tuesday.

The total transaction value was US$453 million (Bt14.5 billion). Masinloc power plant is now owned by AES with a 51-per-cent net stake, Egco Group at 40.95 per cent and the International Finance Corporation at 8.05 per cent.

The 630-megawatt Masinloc power plant is in Zambales province on the Philippine island of Luzon. Masinloc sells its power under contract to various parties including the distribution utility Manila Electric Company (Meralco) as well as several electricity cooperatives and industrial customers.

AIR MANDALAY ORDERS JETS

Air Mandalay has placed a firm order with Mitsubishi Aircraft for six MRJ90s with a purchase option for four more.

This agreement, disclosed at Britain's top air show, demonstrates the Myanmar airline's commitment to serving both the local market and visitors, as the country transitions to an international-standard air-transport structure.

Air Mandalay operates turboprop aircraft and is seeking to expand and enhance its fleet's capability through the introduction of regional jets. The MRJs (Mitsubishi Regional Jets) are aimed at helping drive the airline's growth in the region.

Gary Villiard, chief executive of Air Mandalay, said recently that the MRJ was chosen for its advanced design characteristics, promised customer support backed by the Mitsubishi parent company, and the reliability and economy of the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine. By 2032, Mitsubishi Aircraft anticipates demand for about 1,000 planes in the expanding Asian regional-jet market.

This deal with Air Mandalay is expected to enable Mitsubishi Aircraft to accelerate its sales efforts across the region. Already 325 MRJs are on order but Air Mandalay is the first Asian carrier outside of Japan to select the aircraft.


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