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Consumers in 7 nations spend Bt347 bn on smartphones in 3 quarters

In the first three quarters of this year, consumers in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines spent US$10.8 billion (Bt347 billion) on nearly 41.5 million smartphones, according to findings by GfK, a market-research institute based in Germany.

Among these seven markets, Indonesia had the greatest smartphone sales volume and value. Since the beginning of this year, Indonesian consumers have bought 14.8 million smartphones worth more than $3.33 billion.

Thailand was next, with 7.2 million sold, then Malaysia with 6.4 million units. However, in terms of smartphone sales revenue, the ranking is reversed, with Malaysia garnering $2.25 million and Thailand $1.96 million in sales from January to September.

According to GfK findings comparing this year's first nine months to the same period in 2012, the fastest-growing markets for smartphones were Vietnam and Thailand. Both reported surges of more than twofold, by 156 and 118 per cent respectively in volume, and 113 and 114 per cent in value.

In terms of operating systems, Android with its 72-per-cent market share continues to be increasingly sought after across six of the markets. This platform is most widespread in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, where Android now makes up 91, 83 and 81 per cent of total smartphone sales in the respective countries. In Indonesia, the proportion of Android smartphones sales jumped by 23 per cent within a year, from 37 per cent to 60 per cent now.

Another smartphone feature that is rising in prevalence is larger screen sizes. For instance, screens of 4 inches and above, which accounted for 13 per cent of total sales last year, have more than doubled their share. In the first nine months of this year, one in four (27 per cent) smartphones sold has a screen size of at least 4 inches.

The latest trend in the market now is phablets, defined as mobile devices with cellular voice phone functionality and a display between 5.6 and 6.99 inches, according to Gerard Tan, account director for digital technology at GfK Asia.

Tirathai sees Oct orders, contracts near Bt2 bn

Transformer manufacturer Tirathai clinched orders and contracts in October worth Bt1.966 billion, said managing director Sumpan Vongphan.

They included a transformer order from the Metropolitan Electricity Authority worth Bt368 million and similar order from the Provincial Electricity Authority worth Bt272 million. It also clinched orders from local companies worth Bt817 million and for export worth Bt353 million.

Tirathai had delivery and backlog orders worth Bt3.304 billion as of October.

TFEX postpones symbol adjustment

The Thailand Futures Exchange (TFEX), under the Stock Exchange of Thailand group, has postponed adjusting its symbols for derivative contracts with December 2013 maturity (series Z13) from December 2 until further notice to prepare for the highest readiness of its system and those of related parties.

The symbols of those contracts remain unchanged, while the last trading day will be the same date as previously announced. That is, the last trading day for SET50 futures and options, stock futures, sector futures and US-dollar futures expiring this month will be December 26, and the last trading day for gold and silver futures expiring this month will be December 24.

'Rating watch positive' stays for BAY: Fitch

Fitch Ratings has maintained its "rating watch positive" on Bank of Ayudhya's Long-Term Issuer Default Rating of "BBB", Short-Term IDR of "F3", National Long-Term Rating of "AA-(tha)" and Support Rating of "3".

Since Fitch placed BAY on "rating watch positive" in July, there have been signs of progress in Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ's (A/Stable) plan to acquire the Thai bank.

The Finance Ministry and Bank of Thailand have already granted permission for BTMU to hold more than 49.0 per cent of BAY's shares and to integrate its existing Bangkok branch with BAY after it acquires a majority stake in the Thai bank. BAY's shareholders have approved the transaction, and BTMU commenced a voluntary tender offer for BAY's shares at the beginning of last month.

Although BTMU may secure a majority stake as soon as this month, consummation of the transaction, including details of the final stake and structure/strategy employed BTMU, may take more than three months.

It is only after these milestones are reached that Fitch would be in a position to resolve the rating watch and conclude the extent of upgrade merited in BAY's ratings.

The "rating watch positive" continues to reflect the probability that BTMU will become the majority shareholder in BAY. Fitch expects that the change would result in a high likelihood of support from BTMU to BAY, especially in terms of management and operational integration and funding support.

Roong is BOT spokesman

The Bank of Thailand yesterday named Roong Mallikamas, the director of its Macroeconomic Policy Office, as its spokesman.

Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said the appointment will strengthen the efficient communications between the central bank and the public.

Minister aims to reassure WTO meeting in Bali

Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan is taking part in the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference that runs from today through Friday in Bali, where he says he will assure the international community of Thailand's commitments despite political conflicts at home.

He said yesterday in Bali that some ministers of Asean countries taking part in the World Trade Organisation conference asked him about the situation and he told them that the government was negotiating with the protesters. He believes the situation will return to normal soon.

He added that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra supported his attendance at the conference, saying that if he stayed away it could send a wrong message to the world that Thailand's political situation was too grave for ministers to attend an international event.

Niwatthumrong said Thailand supported the proposal by the Group of 20 developing countries that developed markets widen access to their agricultural products.

The G-20 has also urged developed countries to reduce domestic subsidies or cancel export subsidies, which have distorted the world trade system.

November inflation 1.92%

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) last month rose 1.92 per cent, held down by lower fuel prices as well as an increase in inventory, according to the Commerce Ministry.

In the first 11 months, the CPI rose by 2.24 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Prayoth Benyasut, director of the Bureau of Trade and Economic Indices, said that of the basket of 450 products used to calculate the country's inflation, about 194 were found to have higher prices, 169 were unchanged, and 87 saw prices decrease.

TDK Thai acquires two companies

TDK Corporation's Thailand-based hard disk drive (HDD) suspension assemblies subsidiary Magnecomp Precision Technology Public Co (MPT) concluded an agreement in October to acquire two HDD-related companies, EntroComponent Solutions and EntroComponent Solutions Singapore, from US-based speciality polymer and resin manufacturer Entrotech Inc.

MPT also inked a business-alliance agreement with entrotech, which mainly manufactures and sells speciality polymers and resins.

Bringing the two Entrotech HDD-related companies into the TDK Group through this acquisition is intended to enhance TDK's HDD-related components line-up and further differentiate the TDK Group to strengthen its competitiveness.

Regarding the alliance, the Entrotech and MPT will explore ways of working together, including the development of technologies utilising Entrotech's speciality polymers and resins, and their application to other products.

TDK Corporation is a leading electronics company based in Tokyo.

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