Management of Thoresen Thai Agencies (TTA) is ready to consider every option proposed by a group of retail stock investors including a takeover bid for the country’s largest dry-bulk carrier.
But the investors must show evidence to prove they can gather minority shareholders holding 30% of TTA as claimed, said M.L. Chandchutha Chandratat, the TTA president and chief executive.
The company claimed that the investor group included Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Vijit Supinit.
M.L. Chandchutha said he had been contacted by and met personally with Dr Vijit, Bee Taechaubol _ a former CEO of Country Group Securities _ and Weera Manakongtreecheep, a former president of the defunct Sitca Finance and Securities, twice since early May.
All three could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The SEC said it had no details about the deal beyond what were in the media.
“Normally, shareholders have the right by law to bid to become major shareholders, but details need to be scrutinised. We will handle the issue in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Act,” said Thawatchai Pittayasophon, director of the market regulator’s corporate affairs department.
On reports that Dr Vijit was behind the hostile deal, Mr Thawatchai replied: “Given the information we have now, it is too early to make a conclusion. … So far, Dr Vijit is still serving as the chairman of the SEC until his successor takes office in July,” said Mr Thawatchai.
Mr Bee, meanwhile, is still under investigation of accusations of embezzlement and fraud while serving as a director of International Engineering Plc in 2006.
Mr Weera was one of four former executives of the bankrupt Sitca Finance, accused by the Bank of Thailand of misappropriating funds and banned from leaving the country during the 1997 financial crisis.
The investor group that has approached TTA wants it to remove some directors including chairman Aswin Kongsiri and appoint people designated by its members as a new president and directors. The group also suggests that TTA change the nature of its businesses operations.
By holding 30% ownership, the investors can convene an extraordinary general shareholders’ meeting to control significant voting rights.
“We have asked them to present written confirmation or proposals but have yet to receive any,” said M.L. Chandchutha.
“We are ready to carefully consider every option that benefits every shareholder and the company the most.”
TTA earlier was reported to have been the target of a hostile takeover bid by foreign funds. Currently, foreign investors hold 14.3% of the company including through non-voting depository receipts.
TTA said that it had reviewed and compared a list of shareholders as of May 13 with that of March 10, when the register was closed, in order to determine the names of shareholders entitled to receive dividends.
It found “no factual evidence of any significant change in the shareholding proportion of any group of shareholders as claimed by the aforementioned investors”, he said.
M.L. Chandchutha said management would soon forward its findings to the SEC and the SET to review the accuracy and validity of all shareholdings.
Some investors have expressed unhappiness with TTA’s financial performance and share price. At a news briefing yesterday, management said a sharp drop in commodity shipping rates over the past two years was the major reason for declines in net profit.
TTA shares closed yesterday on the SET at 23 baht, up one baht, in trade worth 1.05 billion baht.
Source: Bangkok Post