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Finance minister Korn grapples with Thailand’s downturn

Thailand’s new finance minister is doing everything he can to get the country’s fundamentally sound banks lending again. He must also cope with political instability. Will Korn Chatikavanij be able to see the job through? asks Eric Ellis.

Political imperatives

Thailand’s debonair finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij

"We have capital adequacy ratios in our system that would make western banks weep with envy. Our problem is that banks are not lending"

Korn Chatikavanij

BY CONVENTIONAL MEASURES, if ever a man was fated to lead it would be Thailand’s debonair finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij. Indeed, the 45-year-old Korn has the profile of someone destined to head the UK finance ministry as chancellor of the exchequer, rather than the Thai treasury in Bangkok. The grandson of a privy councillor to Thailand’s royal court, Korn was born in London’s South Kensington and was educated at English schools, including Winchester College, before taking a philosophy, politics and economics degree at St John’s College, Oxford. A fellow undergraduate at St John’s was his life-long friend, the new Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

After a stint in the City of London with investment bank SG Warburg, Korn returned to Bangkok aged 24 to set up his own investment bank in a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Jardine Fleming.

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