Thai Bourse Postpones Decision On Thai Beverage Listing

Dow Jones Newswire, March 21, 2005

BANGKOK, Thailand -- The Stock Exchange of Thailand, or SET, said Monday it will postpone indefinitely a decision on whether or not to allow the listing of Thai Beverage PCL, the country's largest beer and liquor maker.

The postponement of the decision, which had been expected Wednesday, comes after strong opposition to the listing from various social groups on the grounds that alcohol consumption is against the country's Buddhist practices.

"We will not make a decision under the pressures of any parties," SET President Kittiratt Na-Ranong told reporters.

The Thai bourse's move effectively puts Thai Beverage's initial public offering - the country's largest-ever - on hold. The company, owned by liquor tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, hopes to raise as much as THB40 billion through the offering. Its financial advisers, Phatra Securities and SCB Securities, had expected the IPO to take place around April after the completion of the company's restructuring process.

Some 2,000 Buddhist monks gathered outside the Thai Stock Exchange Friday to protest the listing. The monks said in a statement that the listing would present "a grave threat to the health, social harmony and time-honored ethics of Thai culture."

In addition, the Thai Central Islamic Network and the Association of Thai Community Development Women Leaders have separately submitted statements to the bourse opposing the listing.

Kittiratt has said that Thai Beverage's business is legitimate, and is not against Thai culture.