THAI board to decide on Nok share purchase

THAI board to decide on Nok share purchase

Budget carrier's rehab plan in effect

Relations between Nok Air and 'big brother' Thai Airways International never have been great, but now they are shakier than ever. (Photo Business Times, Singapore)
Relations between Nok Air and 'big brother' Thai Airways International never have been great, but now they are shakier than ever. (Photo Business Times, Singapore)

Thai Airways International's (THAI) board of directors will ponder injecting fresh funds into budget carrier Nok Airlines at a meeting scheduled early next month.

THAI's management is weighing whether the company should subscribe to SET-listed Nok Air's fundraising by buying shares, said THAI chairman Ekniti Nitithanprapas.

The parent company wants to retain 21% shareholding in Nok Air, and Nok's business rehabilitation plan will be a factor in the decision, said Mr Ekniti.

"The management team must decide on a proposal to the board at the next meeting. Regarding rumours that THAI plans to dissolve Nok Air, this is impossible as THAI holds only a 21% stake in Nok Air," he said.

The low-cost carrier's shareholders approved a recapitalisation plan last week by issuing 908.8 million new shares at one baht par value to existing shareholders at 2.5 held shares for every new one, at a price of 2.75 baht. Upon completion of the capital increase, Nok Air's registered capital will be raised to 3.41 billion baht from 2.5 billion.

Other Nok Air shareholders include Nuttapol, Thaweechat and Hatairat Jurangkool, who own 23.8%, 18.9% and 12.5%, respectively.

For the nine-month period, Nok Air's revenue fell by 1.9% from a year earlier to 10.5 billion baht, while the net loss widened to 1.96 billion baht from 1.62 billion from a year earlier.

In another development, Mr Ekniti, who is also chairman of Krungthai Bank (KTB), said the bank's board of directors instructed an executive team to provide better customer service in compliance with the Bank of Thailand's standards after a customer lost money from a forged signature on cheques.

The issue has affected people's confidence in using the bank's services, and such errors cannot occur, he said.

Mr Ekniti said KTB's management is imposing penalties against the bank's existing employees who were implicated in extending loans to SET-listed Energy Earth.

Those who face the allegations are eligible to appeal the bank's finding, he said.

A probe of the loan extensions found wrongdoings committed by former and current high-ranking executives, as well as low-level staff.

Mr Ekniti said KTB cannot punish former employees found to have been involved in the loan extension to Energy Earth, but the board has assigned the president to consider legal action against them.

KTB's findings alleged Kittiphun Anutarasoti, chief executive of CIMB Thai Bank (CIMBT), was culpable for misconduct and fraud to benefit himself and others, resulting in huge damage to KTB from loans extended to Energy Earth while he was an executive overseeing the corporate banking business during 2013-17.

Mr Kittiphun, however, disputed the probe, saying he was never notified of the charges, nor was he allowed to clarify his actions to the panel.

KTB, Energy Earth's largest creditor, launched a probe into the 12 billion baht granted to Energy Earth after the coal miner failed to redeem two lots of bills of exchange worth 90 million baht that were due in June 2017. KTB filed a complaint with the Department of Special Investigation to probe accusations that Energy Earth might have fabricated coal import documents.


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