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PE trust for digital content firms backed

SET, computer graphics association support fund-raising efforts

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Thai Animation and Computer Graphics Association are encouraging businesses in the digital-content industry to set up a private-equity (PE) trust as a fund-raising alternative, aiming to take the industry's competitiveness to the international level.

Vorapol Socatiyanurak, secretary-general of the SEC, said the digital-animation industry in Thailand had huge growth potential, since it had already been responsible for several famous products. These included "Frozen", which this year won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, to which Thai story artist Prasarnsook Veerasunthorn contributed, and the 2012 Oscar-winning animated film "Rango", which was jointly created by Monk Studios that has it base here in the Kingdom.

"Thailand is a production-led economy, but since it has lost its competitiveness in terms of production costs, we have to change to an economy that concentrates on value-added products and services, driven by the quality of the products and not their prices, since value creation can eventually move the country into a high-income economy," Vorapol said.

He said the world from now on would largely depend on digital content, so digital products were becoming more in demand. And since Thailand has capable companies and skilled workers that are already part of the supply chain, the SEC wants to help them expand their production base by promoting recognition of Thailand's innovation and creativity worldwide.

"Thai companies within creative-based businesses such as digital content, movies and animation should be supported via private funding and the public sector so these industries can create more products to showcase Thailand's innovation. This digital content can also help boost growth in related industries such as tourism and increase national revenue through new consumer products," he said.

Vorapol said the SEC had encouraged digital-content providers who lack adequate funding to participate in the "Pride in Thai Innovative and Creative Businesses" project to learn about alternative fund-raising channels. These include going public and becoming a listed firm or establishing PE trusts to gain access to funding sources for expansion. They could also gain management expertise from professionals, enabling them to grow continuously and to compete internationally.

Currently there are five digital-content providers interested in the fund-raising project and the PE trust fund. These are Siam Well Net, TV Thunder, Netbay, Tru Spot, and Kantana Animation Studio. Kantana is the only company that is planning on an initial public offering to raise money. Regulations on PE trusts came into force on July 1.

"A lot of digital content out there is produced in Thailand and by Thai people, and we should be proud of our talents and products abroad. But the SEC hopes that Thailand can expand the domestic digital-production base in order to increase the industry's competitiveness on the world stage even further," Vorapol said.


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