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* More than 30 companies and trusts in line to list on Thai
* Big IPOs will reveal foreign investor appetite for Thai
By Viparat Jantraprap
BANGKOK, Aug 20 Thailand's stock market has
experienced a wave of initial public offerings (IPOs) since the
military took over the country three months ago, with companies
relieved that the political deadlock has ended.
The environment has become far more conducive for firms to
raise funds as prospects for the economy are brightening, with
growth tipped at 5.5 percent next year, and the benchmark stock
index is trading at 14-month highs having jumped 10
percent since the coup.
"The more stable political situation is generally good news
for companies and investors," said Prasert Patradhilok,
president of Advisory Plus, an investment advisor. "The IPO
window is opening and the momentum should continue, until the
election risk late next year."
The Thai army has promised a general election by late 2015.
Bangkok Airways and Bangkok Land are among the approved IPOs
waiting for listing dates in the coming months. As of June,
there were 13 companies and four property funds that had
obtained approvals and were negotiating with the Thai stock
exchange over listing dates.
A further 28 companies, four property funds, one
infrastructure fund and three real estate investment trusts
(REIT) are in the bulging IPO pipeline awaiting filing
Thai investors will buy most of the small deals. But the
bigger ones such as Bangkok Airways and Impact Growth Real
Estate Investment Trust, each seen valued at 20-30 billion baht
($623-935 million), will be marketed internationally, providing
a test of how foreigners view post-coup Thailand as a place to
Many of these deals will come this year and while it might
be a stretch, the Stock Exchange of Thailand thinks it may even
break its 210 billion baht ($6.54 billion) IPO target for 2014.
Last year was the busiest in a decade, according to the
exchange, with 38 IPOs worth 192 billion baht ($6.01 billion)
booked, but this year could turn out better, which would be a
remarkable feat given the political turbulence.
The Thai stock market was Southeast Asia's worst performer
in 2013, suffering a 6.7 percent drop as Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra grip on power began slipping away.
There were just 11 IPOs worth 23 billion baht in the five
months before the May 22 coup, but since the army takeover 12
deals worth 34.3 billion baht have been booked, exchange data
Investment bankers said valuations were fairly high versus
historical levels, making it attractive for firms to list.
The benchmark SET index is trading at 13.86 times 12-month
forward price earnings ratio, versus an average of 15.13 times
from 1997-2013, Thomson Reuters Datastream shows.
Recent IPOs performed strongly. Shares in beverage maker
Sappe, for example, doubled on its June 25 debut and
has risen a further 7.2 percent from there.
Next off the block will be Exotic Food, which will list on
Thailand's Market for Alternative Investment bourse on
The ruling military council's commitment approval of
2.4-trillion-baht of infrastructure investment over the next
eight years, has also excited investors.
Construction stocks have surged with shares in builders such
as Ch Karnchang Pcl and Italian Thai Development
up almost 50 percent.
Investors are preparing for infrastructure funds to start
listing. Among large offerings expected, telecoms group Jasmine
International's planned infrastructure fund for its
broadband internet business could list with a valuation around
60-70 billion baht.
That deal is unlikely to come this year, however, due to a
legal dispute of an underlying asset.
In addition to infrastructure funds, new Thai Securities and
Exchange Commission regulations could pave the way for foreign
companies to list on the main exchange as part of plans to make
Bangkok an investment hub for the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Proposed regulations would allow foreign companies to make
their first sale of stock to the public on the main Thai stock
exchange and simultaneous dual listings locally, according to
Vorapol Socatiyanurak, Secretary General of the SEC.
"Many foreign companies have an intent of listing here. We
are working on foreign primary listing regulations and hoping to
finish them in August or September," he said.
(1 US dollar = 31.8000 Thai baht)
(1 US dollar = 31.9500 Thai baht)
(Additional reporting by Saranya Suksomkij and Wirat
Buranakanokthanasarn; Editing by Nachum Kaplan and Simon