Sepo chief hopes for Thailand Future Fund IPO in July

Sepo chief hopes for Thailand Future Fund IPO in July

Progress after labour dispute resolved

The IPO for the Thailand Future Fund (TFF), delayed several months, is set to launch in October after the Administrative Court turned down a request by the Expressway Authority of Thailand (Exat) labour union to revoke the infrastructure fund's launch plan.

With the legal dispute resolved, the TFF's IPO filing will be submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the fund is expected to be offered to the public in October at the latest, said Prapas Kong-Ied, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo).

"If possible, I want the IPO to happen by July," he said.

Although the cabinet approved a proposal to use two expressways as underlying assets for the TFF in May 2017, the IPO process was stalled for months as the labour union filed a petition to stop the fund-raising plan, contending that borrowing to refinance road construction carries cheaper costs.

According to the cabinet's resolution, 45% of future revenue from the Chalong Rat Expressway (Ram Intra-At Narong) and Burapha Withi Expressway (Bang Na-Chon Buri), both owned by Exat, will be used to back TFF units.

The TFF IPO will be used to finance construction of the expressway linking Rama III Road-Dao Khanong and the Western Outer Ring Road, worth 30.4 billion baht, and the third stage of the long-delayed northern expressway linking the Kasetsart intersection and Nawamin Road, also known as the N2 section, valued at 14.4 billion baht.

Sepo estimates that 45 billion baht will be raised from the TFF IPO, but the exact amount depends on investor valuation of the expressways, Mr Prapas said.

The TFF unit offering to the public is one of Mr Prapas's three priorities after he took the helm at Sepo last week.

The other two issues are pushing investment in government infrastructure projects through joint ventures with the private sector or under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme and ramping up investment budget disbursement by state enterprises.

The PPP scheme and the infrastructure fund offering are tools to help alleviate the fiscal burden and prevent the country's public debt from soaring.

Mr Prapas said the government's big-ticket infrastructure development should use as little in state funds as possible by pulling investment from the private sector to leave room for social infrastructure investments in education and public health.

The PPP scheme's strength comes from maximising efficiency, since the private sector always protects its interests, he said.

On the issue of state enterprises' investment budget disbursement, Mr Prapas said he would monitor projects that are progressing slowly and seek faster budget allocation.

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