Banpu NEXT takes first step towards turning Phuket into ‘smart, liveable city’ #SootinClaimon.Com

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Banpu NEXT takes first step towards turning Phuket into ‘smart, liveable city’

CorporateJan 22. 2021

By The Nation

Banpu NEXT has teamed up with the municipalities of Phuket City and Rawai, as well as the Phuket Old Town Community and Planet Communications Asia to drive forward the first phase of the “Phuket Liveable City, Smart and Safe” project.

By integrating smart data analytics solutions, this new move will help upgrade safety standards in the new normal in three key areas, namely disease, crime and environmental threats.

So far, safety systems have been installed in two neighbourhoods, namely Thalang Road connecting Rommanee Alley, and Rawai sub-district (Municipality Office and Promthep Cape).

This is the first development in Thailand to use AI-driven smart community platform and application for data collection, analysis and processing to give communities peace of mind.

Other solutions will also be introduced to turn Phuket into a model city with multidimensional smart city developments.

Somruedee Chaimongkol, chief executive officer of Banpu PCL and Banpu NEXT, said Banpu NEXT has developed five smart energy solutions, namely smart energy analytics, smart energy generation, smart energy storage, smart energy utilisation and smart circular economy to allow for tangible results.

“We started off by introducing smart energy utilisation solutions to e-ferries and charging stations for marine tourism in Phuket. More recently, we have partnered with government and private organisations as well as local communities in the ‘Phuket Liveable City, Smart and Safe’ project that uses ‘Smart Data Analytics Solution’ to analyse data of the locations and design safety systems that address the issues. The system installation, including hardware, software and IoT-based operating system, was completed by Planet.”

The smart community app allows 24/7 monitoring, inspection and proper control from anywhere. These systems will also increase Covid-19 monitoring and control efficiency on social distancing measures with five capabilities: limiting visitor traffic, monitoring occupancy density, body temperature screening; detection of non-maskers; and preliminary timeline analysis of visitors and inspection of potential Covid-19 patients.

Officials can use the application to track the data, send out real-time notifications if any risk is found.

B Grimm chairman buys back 2m shares after energy deal #SootinClaimon.Com

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B Grimm chairman buys back 2m shares after energy deal

CorporateJan 22. 2021Harald LinkHarald Link

By The Nation

Harald Link, chairman of B Grimm Power Group (BGRIM) has bought back 2 million company shares for Bt139 million at Bt69.50 per share, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) information.

BGRIM’s December share price was Bt48.50, down 1.52 per cent, after ranging between Bt47.25 and Bt53. This month it has risen 12.63 per cent to Bt53.50, ranging between Bt47.50 and Bt56.

On January 12, BGRIM announced it had invested 45 per cent in Univenture BGP (UVBGP), a subsidiary of SET-listed property developer Univentures Plc (UV), with the aim of investing, developing and operating energy projects together with UV.

BGRIM acquired 2.25 million newly issued ordinary shares in UVBGP at a subscription price of Bt10 per share, totalling Bt22.5 million.

BGRIM and UV now hold 45 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, of the total number of voting shares in UVBGP.

BGRIM currently operates 48 power plants with total capacity of 3,058MW and plans to raise that figure to 7,200MW by 2025.

Krungsri posts 2020 net profit of Bt23.04bn, building strong provision buffer #SootinClaimon.Com

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Krungsri posts 2020 net profit of Bt23.04bn, building strong provision buffer

CorporateJan 22. 2021Krungsri president and CEO Seiichiro Akita Krungsri president and CEO Seiichiro Akita

By The Nation

Krungsri (Bank of Ayudhya and its business units) has announced net profits of Bt23.04 billion for 2020, representing a 14.5 per cent drop from its net profit in 2019. The bank attributed the sharp drop to provisioning for future uncertainties given the Covid-19 outbreak in mid-December and the fragile outlook for economic recovery.

Krungsi said its asset quality remains strong with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 2 per cent and the coverage ratio at a record high of 175.12 per cent.

The bank cited achievements including the status conversion of its Cambodia subsidiary, Hattha Kaksekar Ltd, from a microfinance firm to a commercial bank named Hattha Bank; its Asean expansion by acquiring a 50 per cent stake in SB Finance Company, a subsidiary of Security Bank Corp (SBC) in the Philippines; investment in and strategic alliance with Grab; and the successful launch of Kept – an online savings management platform it said has been well-received by target groups. 

Key highlights of Krungsri’s consolidated 2020 results:

· Net profit: Recorded at Bt23.04 billion, down 14.5 per cent from normalised net profit in 2019.

· Loan growth: Up 0.8 per cent or Bt15.058 billion from December 2019, driven by retail and SME loans which grew by 2.2 and 2 per cent, respectively. Corporate loans contracted by 1.5 per cent, mainly due to loan repayments made by Thai corporates.

· Deposit growth: Totalled Bt1.834,505 trillion, an increase of 17.1 per cent, or Bt267.62 billion, from December 2019, attributed to an increase in savings deposits.

· Net interest margin (NIM): Recorded a 3.47 per cent, from 3.60 per cent in 2019, driven by interest rate reductions following assistance measures for customers impacted by the pandemic.

· Non-interest income: Dropped Bt3.877 billion or 10.6 per cent from normalised non-interest income in 2019, resulting from lower fee and service income following the economic slowdown.

· Cost to income ratio: Improved to 42.52 per cent from 45.1 per cent in 2019.

· Non-performing loans (NPL) ratio: Recorded at 2 per cent, compared to 1.98 per cent in December 2019.

· Coverage ratio: New high of 175.12 per cent, from 163.82 per cent in December 2019.

· Capital adequacy ratio: At 17.92 per cent, compared to 16.56 per cent in December 2019.

Krungsri president and CEO Seiichiro Akita said the Thai economy would take at least two years before returning to its pre-pandemic level. Krungsri Research forecasts the Thai economy will grow by 2.5 per cent in 2021, from its low base of 6.4 per cent contraction in 2020 – barring heightened risk from the domestic outbreak.

As of December 31, 2020, Krungsri, Thailand’s fifth largest bank in terms of assets, loans and deposits, reported Bt1.83 trillion in loans, 1.83 trillion in deposits, and Bt2.61 trillion in total assets. The bank’s said its capital was strong at Bt276.26 billion, equivalent to 17.92 per cent of risk-weighted assets, with 12.85 per cent in common equity tier 1 capital.

Kasikornbank announces Bt29.48-billion net profit for 2020 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Kasikornbank announces Bt29.48-billion net profit for 2020

CorporateJan 21. 2021KBank Chief Executive Officer Kattiya IndaravijayaKBank Chief Executive Officer Kattiya Indaravijaya

By The Nation

Kasikornbank and its subsidiaries reported a net operating profit of Bt29.48 billion for 2020, with fourth-quarter net profit being Bt13.25 billion, the bank said in a press release.

KBank Chief Executive Officer Kattiya Indaravijaya said the overall economy contracted in 2020 amid the domestic and global impact by Covid-19. The crisis negatively impacted domestic spending, exports and tourism. 

“The economy faces additional downside risks in 2021, particularly with the new wave of Covid-19. Therefore, economic recovery remains highly uncertain, while government expenditure and investment will remain key supportive factors,” she said.

“Since January 1, 2020, the bank and its subsidiaries have adopted TFRS related to financial instruments. Some items are not comparable with the financial statements and key financial ratios of previous years,” the press release said.

It added that KBank and its subsidiaries reported a 2020 net profit of Bt29.48 billion, a decrease of Bt9.24 billion, or 23.86 per cent compared to the previous year, mainly due to the fact that the bank and its subsidiaries complied with the prudent approach of setting aside a higher-than-expected credit loss from the preceding year of Bt9.53 billion, or 28.04 per cent, with reserves of Bt32.06 billion since the first half of 2020 due to high uncertainty from the Covid-19 pandemic.

With relief measures gradually ending in the second half of 2020, customers were still able to repay debts better than expected, and with the new wave of Covid-19 in late fourth quarter, the bank had revisited and assessed the adequacy of its reserves and found they were sufficient. 

The bank expected a credit loss amounting to Bt43.54 billion for 2020 – a level that could cover potential damages occurring in line with the situation, the statement said, adding that net interest income increased by Bt6.33 billion, or 6.17 per cent, mainly due to a decrease in interest expenses as a result of a drop in the average interest rate and a decrease in contributions to the Financial Institutions Development Fund, resulting in NIM that stood at 3.27 per cent. 

Meanwhile, non-interest income was down by Bt11.93 billion, or 20.65 per cent, mainly due to a decrease in revenue from securities sales and fees income related to loans, which changed to reflect interest income, it said. 

In addition, other operating expenses dropped by Bt2.73 billion, or 3.76 per cent, mainly due to a decrease in estimated employee and marketing expenses, while those for debt management increased. 

“In the quarter, other operating expenses increased by Bt3.82 billion, or 23.26 per cent, due mainly to the increase in IT-related expenses in order to support customers’ needs, marketing expenses due to seasonality and activities with business partners, resulting in a cost-to-income ratio that stood at 45.19 per cent,” the release said.

“As of December 31, 2020, the total assets of KBank and its subsidiaries were Bt3,658,798 million, an increase of Bt364,909 million, or 11.08 per cent, compared to the end of 2019. The majority came from loans, while NPL gross-to-total loans stood at 3.93 per cent,” it said. “The bank has provided support and assured customers impacted by Covid-19 of credit quality, while at the end of 2019 this stood at 3.65 per cent.” 

The coverage ratio as of December 31 stood at 149.19 per cent, while at the end of 2019 this stood at 148.60 per cent, the statement said. 

In addition, as of December 31, Kasikornbank Financial Conglomorate’s capital adequacy ratio, according to the Basel III Accord, was 18.80 per cent, with a Tier-1 Capital ratio of 16.13 per cent, the bank added.

PTTOR to spend Bt74.6bn on 5-year expansion #SootinClaimon.Com

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PTTOR to spend Bt74.6bn on 5-year expansion

CorporateJan 21. 2021

By The Nation

PTT Oil and Retail Business has set aside a budget of Bt74.6 billion for the 2021-2025 expansion of its three core businesses, said acting CEO Jiraphon Kawswat.

Of the total budget, 34.6 per cent will be invested in its oil business, 28.6 per cent in its non-oil business and 21.8 per cent in international business. The remaining 15 per cent will be spent on other businesses and on exploring new business opportunities.

For its oil business, the company aims to increase the number of PTT filling stations in Thailand from the current 1,986 to 3,100 by 2025, Jiraphon said.

For its non-oil business, the firm has targeted expansion of its Cafe Amazon chain in Thailand from 3,186 to 5,800 outlets by 2025.

For its international business, it will focus on expansion of filling stations and Cafe Amazon branches in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV), plus the Philippines. It will also open more Cafe Amazon branches in China.

PTT currently has 329 petrol stations in overseas markets.

Jiraphon said the company would also open more charging stations for electric vehicles on main routes throughout Thailand. It is currently piloting the service in 25 PTT filling stations.

Reinsurance broker TQR to float on Market for Alternative Investment #SootinClaimon.Com

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Reinsurance broker TQR to float on Market for Alternative Investment

CorporateJan 20. 2021TQR chief executive officer Chanaphan PiriyaphanTQR chief executive officer Chanaphan Piriyaphan

By The Nation

Reinsurance broker TQR Co Ltd is expected to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the Market for Alternative Investment (Mai) in this first quarter, according to its financial adviser, Jay Capital Advisory Ltd.

Jay Capital president Jirayong Anuman-Rajadhon said that the Securities and Exchange Commission has already accepted the TQR filing to launch the IPO of 60 million shares.

TQR chief executive officer Chanaphan Piriyaphan said that part of the funds raised from the IPO would be invested in an information and communications technology system to boost the company’s operating efficiency.

KBank’s Beacon invests in Robowealth, targets total AuM of Bt30 billion in 2021 #SootinClaimon.Com

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KBank’s Beacon invests in Robowealth, targets total AuM of Bt30 billion in 2021

CorporateJan 20. 2021Thanapong Na Ranong, right, managing director, Beacon Venture Capital and  Chonladet Khemarattana, left, group chief executive officer of Robowealth Group.Thanapong Na Ranong, right, managing director, Beacon Venture Capital and Chonladet Khemarattana, left, group chief executive officer of Robowealth Group.

By The Nation

Kasikornbank’s corporate venture capital arm Beacon Venture Capital has announced Series A investment in wealth tech start-up Robowealth.

The investment aims to leverage business strengths of both KBank and Robowealth to drive inclusiveness in the capital market by solving three primary issues that prevent Thais from investing – the lack of time, lack of knowledge and lack of capital – aiming for a total Bt30 billion of assets under management (AuM) in 2021, the firms said in a press release.

Managing director Thanapong Na Ranong said Beacon VC focuses on investing in high-potential start-ups, whose innovations and services can deliver real value to KBank customers through the creation of new financial products or services. 

“While we would normally scout for new investments and find collaboration potential with business units, this is the first time we are investing in a start-up that already has a working relationship with KBank,” he said. 

KBank and Robowealth, together with Lu International, launched the FinVest application in late 2020.

Robowealth provides complete solutions for robo-advisory and mutual fund investment. 

“Robowealth Group aims to liberalise the Thai financial industry by providing the public with efficient investment opportunities. Currently, only 5 per cent of Thais invest through mutual funds and the stock exchange,” Group CEO Chonladet Khemarattana said.

“Robowealth’s vision lies within the cooperation to build a stable financial ecosystem under the concept of ‘Empower Future Financial Ecosystem’ through the business to consumer [B2C] and business to business [B2B] schemes. This ecosystem will ultimately help Thais achieve financial freedom sustainably,” he said.

Robowealth currently plays an integral part in developing and offering two prominent investment applications under Robowealth Mutual Fund Brokerage Securities. Both can help investors gain access to mutual fund portfolios with only a miminum Bt1,000 investment. 

Each focuses on different target groups with distinctive and unique product positionings, the press release said. 

The first robo-adviser “odini”, which debuted in 2018, targets ordinary people looking for a simple way to invest through automated ready-made mutual fund portfolios. The customer can either make lump-sum investment or pre-specify the monthly contributions. Two years after the launch, Robowealth has enhanced the odini “with a more premium service under the odini Black sub-brand integrated into the existing application to serve the mass affluent segment better”. 

The second application FinVest debuted in late 2020 as Thailand’s first curated mutual funds investment application. The investment committee, which consists of fund managers and investment analysts, has the primary responsibility of selecting a set of suitable mutual funds from both the domestic and global investment universe based on a thematic investment framework. Then, these featured funds will be directly served to the customer with precise and digestible content to make the final investment decision on his/her own. 

“The robo-adviser could provide a decent return by allocating Chinese and US equities as many tech stocks have greatly benefited from the Covid-19 lockdown,” Chonladet said. 

Thanapong added that one of the main interesting characteristics of successful Thai fintech companies is that their business and models don’t aim to disrupt financial institutions, but instead aim to collaborate with those institutions by bringing together each parties’ unique strength to add value to customers and grow synergistically.

Bill Gates-led fundraises another $1 billion to invest in clean tech #SootinClaimon.Com

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Bill Gates-led fundraises another $1 billion to invest in clean tech

CorporateJan 20. 2021Bill GatesBill Gates

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Akshat Rathi

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the clean-tech venture capital fund led by Bill Gates, has raised $1 billion for a second round of investments after backing 45 start-ups with its first billion.

Created in 2016, BEV began funding start-ups just as the second wave of clean-tech investments was gaining momentum. Since then, interest in the sector has exploded. VC money flowing into start-ups that can help cut emissions has soared to $16 billion in 2019 from $400 million in 2013, a 40-times increase, according to a PwC report published last year.

The first clean-tech boom was a disappointment. VCs lost more than half the $25 billion invested between 2006 and 2011. The financial crisis compounded the losses, but experts believe there were bigger problems with the underlying investment philosophy. First, VCs were looking to replicate the success they had seen in internet start-ups, expecting returns from clean-tech investments in less than five years. Second, the types of technologies they invested in were mostly limited to renewable electricity, biofuels and electric vehicles-all of which depended heavily on government regulations to grow.

BEV learned from that failure. It launched a “patient” fund that would run for 20 years, instead of expecting returns in just five years. It also pursued a larger set of technologies, including agriculture, buildings, transportation, and manufacturing. Profit remains the ultimate objective, but BEV set another criteria: companies needed to show a path to scaling up that would cut at least 500 million metric tons of annual CO₂ emissions-about 1% of global emissions.

Software start-ups can be nimble, moving from one idea to another when a business plan doesn’t pan out. That kind of pivot is rare for clean-tech companies because of the length of time and amount of money that needs to be spent before failure becomes apparent.

That’s why BEV relies on a team that consists of academics, entrepreneurs, former government officials, and bankers, along with VC investors. Their mission goes beyond judging an idea and the people behind it to rigorously evaluate the feasibility and potential of new technologies.

“We have built a great technical team and our ability to close a second fund is a testament to their good work,” said Eric Toone, BEV’s technical lead. The first round included investments in complex technologies including energy storage, lithium mining, electric aviation, synthetic palm oil, zero-carbon steel, hydropower turbines and even nuclear fusion.

Even though BEV invests in early-stage start-ups and doesn’t expect returns quickly, the proliferation of clean-energy companies going public via SPACs helped it score its first exit. QuantumScape, which makes next-generation lithium-ion batteries, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in September. Its valuation has shot up to $20 billion from $3 billion even though its batteries won’t hit the market before 2025. “We may have some early wins, but the ultimate impact of many of our investments will require a longer time horizon,” said Rodi Guidero, BEV’s executive director.

As its portfolio begins to mature, BEV will also start focusing on how best to bring the innovations to consumers. “Many of our companies are focused on sectors where policy and regulation play an important role in shaping markets,” said Guidero. “We need to fully understand these factors and the challenges and opportunities they bring to our companies.”

Among the principal investors of BEV’s first fund were Jeff Bezos of Amazon Inc., Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries Ltd., Richard Branson of Virgin Group, Jack Ma of Alibaba Group, and hedge fund manager Chris Hohn. Mike Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, is also a backer of BEV. Guidero said many of BEV’s original investors are involved in the second round, along with some new ones, but declined to provide names.

The next $1 billion will go to between 40 and 50 start-ups. While BEV is still interested in a broad set of technologies, it’ll place special focus on “tougher climate challenges” in greener steel and cement, long-haul transport, direct air capture and hydrogen.

In some areas where BEV might not find enough investable start-ups, it intends to launch new companies itself relying on its own technical expertise. “This model has already been successfully executed more than once but the companies have yet to be disclosed,” said Toone.

Finance Ministry to buy 150 million PTTOR shares; analysts, fund managers upbeat about growth potential #SootinClaimon.Com

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Finance Ministry to buy 150 million PTTOR shares; analysts, fund managers upbeat about growth potential

CorporateJan 20. 2021

By The Nation

The Finance Ministry will fully exercise its right to buy 153.34 million shares in the PTT Oil and Retail Business (PTTOR) initial public offering, said State Enterprise Policy Office director general Prapas Kong-Ied on Tuesday.

PTTOR will go public late this month to raise up to Bt54 billion in what looks set to be one of Thailand’s largest listings this year.

“We expect good dividend payments as PTTOR businesses are expected to achieve high growth rates,” Prapas said.

To fund its investment in PTTOR, the ministry will sell about 5 per cent of its Bangchak Corp shares to the Vayupak Fund, he said. The Finance Ministry is the Vayupak Fund’s largest shareholder.

Meanwhile, BBL Asset Management CEO Peerapong Jiraservijinda said his mutual fund will buy 143.15 million PTTOR shares. A cornerstone investor, BBL Asset is making the second largest investment after the Finance Ministry.

PTTOR shares are good long-term investments despite risks including technology disruption, as PTT’s management have shown their capability in managing the group’s businesses, Peerapong said.

PTT is Thailand’s largest filling station operator, while its retail arm PTTOR is best known for its Amazon chain of coffee shops. The company has potential to expand both its filing-station and coffee businesses abroad, he added.

PTT boast a 39 per cent share of the filling station market, operating 1,900 stations in Thailand and 318 in other Asean countries. PTT’s dealer-owned model reduces its risks, said Peerapong, adding the company is in a strong position to make merger and acquisition deals.

The target price of PTTOR shares is estimated at Bt25-Bt27 in the next three years, with projected earnings per share of Bt1.25-Bt1.35, he said. With an IPO price of Bt18 per share, its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is 20 times. 

PTT’s non-oil business is a world leader due to high growth rate, added Peerapong.

Chavinda Hanratanakool, CEO and managing director at Krung Thai Asset Management, was also confident that PTTOR’s business would continue to grow. Changing consumer behaviour has seen filling stations become rest stops for travellers, so their convenience and coffee shops are benefiting from travel spending, she said. As such, PTTOR’s share price is expected to rise, said Chavinda.

UOB Kay Hian Securities strategist Kitpon Pripisankit reckoned the IPO price of Bt16-Bt18 is quite high given PTTOR’S past performance of P/E at 23.9-26.9 times. But taking into account its profit forecast this year, its projected P/E is just 16-18 times – making the Bt16-Bt18 IPO price attractive to investors due to potential growth of its retail oil and non-oil businesses, he said. A fair price would be Bt22 per share, he added.

Investors expect PTT will set the IPO price at Bt18, which has upside potential of 20 per cent, said Kitpon.

GSB grants 110,000 loans in first 4 days of grassroots scheme #SootinClaimon.Com

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GSB grants 110,000 loans in first 4 days of grassroots scheme

CorporateJan 19. 2021

By The Nation

The Government Savings Bank (GSB) has approved around 110,000 loans in the first four days of its borrowing scheme for low-income customers, said president Vitai Ratanakorn.

The bank has set aside Bt10 billion for the scheme, which has received an enthusiastic response from grassroots customers since launching on January 15. Borrowers can apply for loans of up to Bt50,000 via GSB’s MyMo application.

The scheme is also open to self-employed customers who took GSB’s emergency Covid-19 loans last year. They can apply for loans of up to Bt20,000 via the MyMo app from January 23.