Sepo to sell shares of 24 firms in foreclosure

Sepo to sell shares of 24 firms in foreclosure

Links to Victoria's Secret brothel unclear

The State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo) plans to put the foreclosed shares of 24 unlisted companies, including four massage parlours, on sale early this year.

Among the 24 companies, four were seized from former massage parlour king-turned-TV host Chuvit Kamolvisit in 2012 by the Anti-Money Laundering Office, said Piyawan Lamkitcha, deputy director of Sepo. The Finance Ministry is a small shareholder in each of the four firms, owning 0.5-2% of each, though they have never yielded any return for the ministry.

The ministry owns 10,000 shares in Davis Diamond Star Co Ltd, 6,000 shares in Davis Copa Cabana Co Ltd, 7,446 shares in Davis Golden Star Co Ltd and 10,000 shares in Davis Silver Star Co Ltd. They have been registered with the Commerce Ministry as real estate rental businesses.

The Finance Ministry is uncertain whether the four companies are linked to Victoria's Secret Massage, she said.

Victoria's Secret, a brothel in Bangkok, was raided on Jan 12, exposing the illegal employment of minors and migrant workers. Like the four firms, Victoria's Secret was incorporated by Mr Chuvit, but he recently met with police and told them he no longer owns the brothel, having sold it to Kampol Wirathepsuporn.

"It's the first time Sepo has divested shares held by the Finance Ministry in companies that were foreclosed by law," Ms Piyawan said.

The cabinet on Sept 27 last year resolved to permit the Finance Ministry to dispose assets that were derived from foreclosure and no longer in accordance with the ministry's policy, as well as shares in companies that fare better when operated by the private sector.

Apart from the shares in the 24 companies, Sepo will gradually sell other assets held by the Finance Ministry to comply with the five-year divestment plan through 2021. To facilitate the asset sales, Sepo has set up a committee to provide advice for the asset sales and hired KT Zmico Securities as the financial adviser to appraise the assets.

At present, 116 shares of both listed and unlisted companies are held by the Finance Ministry. Of the total, 88 are privately owned companies, 23 are state enterprises and the remainder are mutual funds.

Of the 88 companies, 33 have shut down, Ms Piyawan said.

According to Sepo's website, the Finance Ministry, as of May last year, held shares in 14 listed companies with total market capitalisation of 30.9 billion baht and book value of 26.1 billion. The ministry also owns shares in 72 unlisted firms with a combined book value of 5.16 billion baht.

In related news, Kulaya Tantitemit, inspector-general at the Finance Ministry, said the government's net revenue collection amounted to 548 billion baht for the October-to-December quarter, surpassing the target by 23.7 billion.

The higher revenue could be attributed to a larger income contribution from state enterprises and other state agencies, as well as better-than-expected revenue collected by the Excise Department.

State enterprises for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 sent 43.3 billion baht in income to the government's coffers, exceeding the target by 28.3% or 9.56 billion, Ms Kulaya said. The amount fell 4.2% year-on-year.

The top five contributors were the Government Lottery Office, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Vayupak Fund, the Port Authority of Thailand and the Provincial Waterworks Authority.

The Excise Department amassed 118 billion baht, 388 million higher or 0.3% above its target for the three months to December.

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