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Thai women enter 'Forbes' list

FrobesTwo Thai women have been included in Forbes magazine’s Asia’s top 50 power business women list. The entrepreneurs have also been listed in a separate list of 12 women to watch. The move comes as the younger generation take over businesses and move with changing times.

33 year old Tipa Nawawattanasub, made the list and is being groomed to be the head gold trader at YLG Bullion & Futures. The subsidiary is the gold futures brokerage unit of Thailand’s biggest gold trader. Tipa is expected to succeed her parents, who were the founders and head of the group.

Meanwhile, Roongchat Boonyarat, 28, the daughter of the chairman of the SET-listed canned fruit company Malee Sampran is currently the director and executive vice-president of sales and marketing. Products from this famous brand can be seen at almost every supermarket in the Kingdom. The young executive is making positive moves to modernize the company.

Outside Thailand, women from China and Hong Kong are prominent in the list with their numbers making up 16 out of the 50 entrants. Women from a total number of 13 countries made it into the rundown.

Other notable entrants to the list were Singapore’s Chew Gek Khim who was noted as having changed Straits Trading from a stand alone tin smelter into a modern investment holding company as well as Myanmar’s Rita Nguyen, chief executive of Square in Myanmar, who is increasing Internet access across the country by developing its 3G network.

The list was put together based on many factors including the candidate’s responsibilities in the day-to-day running of the companies, their position at the firms and the companys’ revenues.

Foreign investment in Myanmar triples

For the fiscal year ending 30 March 2014 investment in Myanmar is to triple from the previous period. According to the publication The New Light of Myanmar, foreign direct investment up to the start of the last month of the fiscal year totalled more than 3.6 billion USD as compared to just 1.4 billion USD for the whole of the previous fiscal year. Half of all incoming investment went into the manufacturing industry, with around twenty per cent going into telecommunications. 

Since the new laws on foreign direct investment require investments to last for at least 20 years, it was evident that all investments went into long term businesses.

Up until 2010 many foreign companies shunned Myanmar to avoid bad publicity since the country was under the rule of a military junta and subject to US and EU sanctions. 

Since 2012 most of the sanctions have been dropped and Myanmar has been opening up to foreign investment ever since as well as enacting political and economic reforms. As such it has won back international recognition and future investment looks likely to rise further.

Thai Air Asia’s Q4 profit drops 40%

Thai air asiaFor the last quarter of 2013, Thai Air Asia posted a 40 per cent drop in profits due to aircraft depreciation costs as well as the costs of marketing its cheap flights in the region. The drop in profits comes despite a 16 per cent increase in revenues to 6.50 billion baht and an 81 per cent load factor that has only very slightly declined from the previous quarter’s 82 per cent load factor.

For the full year of 2013, Thai Air Asia posted revenues of 23.48 billion baht and made a net profit of 1.94 billion baht. The airline is Thailand's largest low-cost carrier, despite ever-increasing competition from airlines in the region such as Tiger Air, Scoot and Cebu Pacific.

Thai Air Asia’s chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said the profit reduction was due to the airline including aircraft depreciation in its balance sheet. Additional publicity and advertising to spur the market in Thailand following the start of the political impasse also impacted profits Interestingly, holding company Asia Aviation Plc, which has a 55 per cent stake in Thai Air Asia, posted a 24.4 per cent increase in net profits in 2013 of 1.04 billion baht.

For the full year 2013, Thai Air Asia achieved a load factor of 83%, an increase of one percentage point on the previous year. The airline had 10.5 million customers, up more than 26 per cent from the year before.

For 2014, the airline expects to carry 13.3 million passengers, representing an additional 27 per cent increase year-on-year. The load factor is expected to stay the same as last year. The airline will increase capacity by around 30 per cent in 2014 with the introduction of eight new Airbus A320 planes, which will give it a total of 46 aircraft. The fleet is young with aircraft having an average age of 3.2 years.

The company expects to expand its capacity by increasing frequencies on key existing routes and adding new routes to more cities in China.

In the meantime Thai Air Asia X long-haul services will be delayed due to the ongoing political climate. The launch was originally planned for March 2014. Tassapon Bijleveld, a major Thai Air Asia X stakeholder said "We review the political effect on the market every two months, and until the turbulence eases we will not start.” However he indicated the services will start at some point in time regardless of an end to the impasse.

One of the key requirements was for some of the countries in the West to ease travel advisories on Thailand, since the services will be reliant on foreign tourists from places as far away as Europe.

Thai Air Asia X has had one Airbus A330-300 plane stationed at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport for two months. The Civil Aviation Department has already granted an air operator’s certificate for it. The jet is being used for charter services whilst the airline awaits the launch of the long-haul services. A second A330-300, with 365 economy class seats and 12 business class seats is awaiting delivery, pending the start of services. No date has been fixed for the new plane to be delivered.

Twenty billion baht in rice payments approved by the EC

The Election Commission has allowed the caretaker government to pay long overdue payments to rice farmers. Approval was given to pay out 20 billion baht from a contingency budget called the Central Fund.

Election management commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said on his Facebook page that the money was to pay farmers for long overdue pledges for their crops. Many farmers are holding receipts, some dating as far back as last September, but have yet to be paid. Some were even considering forcing the government to return rice shipments so that they could be sold on the open market even if at lower prices to at least recover something from the previous crop.

The approval was conditional on the money being paid back to the Foreign Trade Department by 31 May this year. Furthermore the deal was contingent on the 20 billion baht not being a financial obligation for the next administration.