THAI rehab firm comes under fire

THAI rehab firm comes under fire

This file photo taken last month shows Thai Airways airplanes parked on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Central Bankruptcy Court held its first hearing on the airline's rehabilitation plan on Monday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
This file photo taken last month shows Thai Airways airplanes parked on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Central Bankruptcy Court held its first hearing on the airline's rehabilitation plan on Monday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The first day of hearings on Thai Airways International Plc's (THAI) rehabilitation plan got underway on Monday at the Central Bankruptcy Court with creditors extensively questioning the technical experience of the company appointed to draft the rehabilitation plan.

THAI was represented by three people -- THAI's acting president, Chansin Treenuchagron, the airline's independent director Piyasvasti Amranand and Chutima Panjapokakij, director of EY Corporate Advisory Services Co -- responsible for putting together the rehab.

In Monday's session, 16 mostly small creditors opposed the plan particularly on issues concerning ticket refunds. They also included Vajira Hospital Cooperative and Dhipaya Life Assurance, which are among the more than 100 large-scale creditors that the airline is in debt to to the tune of over 200 billion baht.

Many questions were directed at the airline's hiring of EY Corporate Advisory as the rehab plan maker.

Mr Chansin reportedly said he was not aware that EY Corporate Advisory was a separate entity from the EY auditor company. He added he did not know that EY Corporate Advisory had no experience as a consultant in rehabilitating a company of THAI's size.

He explained he was named THAI acting president after EY Corporate Advisory was made the rehab planner.

Mr Chansin, Mr Piyasvasti and Ms Chutima join others, all of whom are THAI members of the board of directors, tasked with executing the plan. The others are ACM Chaiyapruk Didyasarin, chairman of the board; Chakkrit Parapuntakul, second vice chairman; Prapan Salirathavibhaga, an independent director; and Boontuck Wungcharoen, an independent director.

On Monday, Mr Chansin said that so far, no fee has been paid to EY Corporate Advisory for its consultant service.

Mr Piyasvasti, meanwhile, defended the firm's credentials, saying it is taking part in the debt rehab of financially ailing companies such as Saha Farms Co Ltd, one of the country's largest frozen-poultry exporters.

He said it came to his attention that EY will receive 22 million baht to be paid in instalments, plus 15 million baht in administrative fees per month until the rehab plan gets the green light from the court.

These details, however, are not yet included in the contract because the firm has not technically started working pending the court's approval.

Mr Piyasvasti said THAI has been in talks with several financial institutions which showed their willingness to extend financial support to the airline which is estimated to need about 60 billion baht of working capital a year during the rehab process.

He said he was confident the rehab plan to restructure the company will succeed.


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