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Capital Markets

Thai IPOs: The lost kingdom

Investors have welcomed Thailand’s largest IPO for years with open arms. The problem is that those investors are in Singapore, not Bangkok. The failure to list one of the kingdom’s prize assets at home is symptomatic of much larger problems in the country. Chris Leahy reports.

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THE IPO OF Thai Beverage, brewer of the famous Chang Beer, favoured by millions of Thais as well as supporters of UK Premiership football club Everton, which it sponsors, was meant to set the local market alight. It was the biggest IPO since Thai Oil in 2004 and the largest brewer and distiller in Thailand, so local and foreign investors awaited the deal with feverish anticipation. Imagine the reaction then when the company announced that it would seek a listing in Singapore rather then Bangkok after protests about the listing of a brewer on the local bourse. To add insult to injury, Thai-listed shares have plummeted recently, partly because investors sold other assets to apply for Thai Beverage shares.

Visitors to Thailand might be perplexed that such a seemingly open and permissive society might baulk at listing one of the country’s leading consumer brands and export successes. After all, Thais rank among the biggest consumers of beer in Asia. The fiasco has certainly flummoxed foreign banks operating in Thailand.

“The fact that Thai Beverage isn’t listing in Thailand is a real disappointment,” says a foreign banker in Bangkok. “No one I’ve spoken to in the market understands why the decision was taken, or why the protest was given so much credibility.

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