Thailand

Thai Airways International Pcl, the nation’s flag carrier in the middle of a debt restructuring, reported a record loss last year after the coronavirus outbreak ground most of its services to a halt, Bloomberg News reported. The net loss widened to 141.2 billion baht ($4.7 billion), or 64.68 baht a share, from 12 billion baht, or 5.51 baht a share in 2019, Thai Airways said in an exchange filing Thursday. The annual loss was the largest ever for a Thai company, according to data compiled by the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Revenue slumped 73.8% to 48.3 billion baht.
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Thai Airways International on Friday said that it had cut around 240 executive positions at the airline as part of its bankruptcy restructuring process, Reuters reported. The announcement comes as the company nears a deadline to submit its restructuring plan to a bankruptcy court for creditor approval and as the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic adds to the woes for an airline that has been struggling since 2012.

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Embattled Bangkok-based carrier Thai Airways is to lay off 395 pilots as part of its restructuring and rehabilitation plan, Simple Flying reported. It follows Thai Airways Acting President Chansin Treenuchagron last month saying the airline’s reorganization was on track and progressing well. This round of retrenchment means Thai Airways will now employ less than 1,000 pilots. It’s another hiccup in a litany of problems facing Thai Airways as it struggles to avoid disappearing off the aviation map. The airline first sought bankruptcy protection in May 2020.

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Siam Commercial Bank, one of the largest banks in Thailand and whose largest individual shareholder is King Maha Vajiralongkorn, said Monday it has secured a 26.49% stake in upscale grocer Dean & DeLuca by converting debt held in the U.S.-based company, Nikkei Asia reported. The stake acquisition results from a debt-to-equity option exercised for a $45.83 million loan extended to Dean & DeLuca. The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a U.S. court last March.
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Thailand's government says it is tightening restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus as the country logged another 527 new cases, the Associated Press reported. Officials said Tuesday that foreign migrant workers accounted for 439 of the new infections, while 82 were Thais infected locally and another six were new arrivals from abroad who tested positive in quarantine centers. Thailand on Monday reported 745 infections, the most since the pandemic began.
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Gold sales in Thailand are surging as households reach for a financial lifeline amid the pandemic, a tactic that risks complicating government efforts to tame an export-stifling rally in the nation’s currency, Bloomberg News reported. Exports of the precious metal surged to a record this year as prices climbed and Thais unloaded jewelry, bars and medallions to raise cash for routine expenses. Bullion traders expect the trend to continue into 2021 as the coronavirus drags on tourism and manufacturing, the mainstays of Thailand’s economy.

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The Living Dead

With the economic malaise caused by the pandemic more than likely to persist over the next few years, there is a higher possibility businesses will be stricken with a high-pitch fever, gradually turning them into zombie companies, the Bangkok Post reported. The term originated in Japan to describe companies that were only generating enough cash to pay interest on their debts, also meaning an uncompetitive company that needs a bailout to successfully operate. These companies do not earn enough to reduce the principal amount of their debt.

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Thai budget carrier Nok Airlines Pcl obtained court approval to proceed with a debt rehabilitation plan as it weathers a slump in passenger demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. The nation’s Central Bankruptcy Court said Nok Air should submit its plan by the first quarter of next year, the company said in an exchange filing Wednesday. The pandemic has devastated global aviation, forcing airlines to suspend flights, lay off employees and seek financial help from governments and investors.

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Nok Air looks set to be allowed to restructure under court supervision, after nobody raised objections during a court hearing today, according to a 27 October filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, FlightGlobal reported. The Thai budget carrier says the order on its business rehabilitation petition will be issued at 09:00 on 4 November by Thailand’s Central Bankruptcy Court, after which Nok will provide further details to the stock exchange. The court had accepted the company’s petition on 30 July and set the hearing for 27 October.

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A pandemic-exacerbated surge in Thai bad loans to nine-year highs and the end of a debt payment holiday are prompting buyers of distressed debt to embark on a shopping spree in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy, Reuters reported. About 6.89 trillion baht ($221 billion) of outstanding Thai debt - or 42% of total lending - has been under relief programmes that include payment deferment and reduction, interest rate reduction and restructuring. The most significant of these - a government-mandated six month debt payment holiday - ended on Thursday.

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