Somchai's shift from AIS to PTT's OR could enable alliance
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Somchai's shift from AIS to PTT's OR could enable alliance

Mr Somchai says he was approached to lead several firms.
Mr Somchai says he was approached to lead several firms.

Somchai Lertsutiwong, chief executive of Advanced Info Service (AIS), is tipped to become chairman of PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR), paving the way for him to form an OR-AIS-Krungthai Bank (KTB) alliance to develop a virtual bank business.

Mr Somchai said several companies have approached him to assume a leadership post after his term at AIS expires later this year.

Changes to PTT's and OR's board of directors present an opportunity for Mr Somchai on the OR board.

Auttapol Rerkpiboon, chief executive of PTT, retired on May 12. Mr Auttapol also resigned from the post of OR board chairman, as well as every board in the PTT group.

Later, Mr Somchai was nominated the new chairman of OR's board and a director by the nomination and remuneration committee.

Mr Somchai was an independent director and member of OR's good corporate governance and sustainability committee before the nomination for the top post.

He declined to formulate a timeline for when he will step down from AIS.

"My term at AIS ends this year, but a clearer picture is up to the board director," said Mr Somchai.

He did not deny speculation that his new position as OR chairman would pave the way for an OR-AIS-KTB-Gulf Energy Development alliance to develop a virtual bank business.

Earlier Sarath Ratanavadi, chief executive of Gulf, said the consortium intends to apply for a virtual bank licence.

Mr Somchai said earlier each party in the group offers a unique strength, such as KTB's reliable branding value proposition, successful track record and expertise in financial services.

AIS's strength lies in its digital technology, nationwide network coverage, innovation and customer service.

OR is the flagship oil retailer for PTT Group with experience in retail networks and consumer bases, he said.

A telecom analyst who requested anonymity said Mr Somchai's new position as chairman of OR's board could "symbolically" help drive the virtual bank development ecosystem.

Mr Somchai is recognised as an executive keen on strategic marketing, said the analyst.

The telecom sector is transforming into a "daily life platform" for the digital economy and society, noted the analyst.

The partnership between a telecom firm and a bank is a perfect model because it would allow synergy and capitalise on everyday services on a digital platform, said the analyst.

The partnership could serve the new business landscape through cost effectiveness, new product launches and service innovations, with accurate cross-industry operations as virtual banking requires banking expertise, smart networking and data analysis, said the analyst.

Mr Somchai's original working term at AIS expired in 2022, but the board agreed to extend his tenure for another two years.

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