Amata to list in Thailand first

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The gate to the Amata Industrial park in Dong Nai Province

Amata Vietnam plans an initial public offering (IPO) and listing on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which would make it the first Vietnamese company to do so. Vietweek spoke to Somhalai Panichewa, the company's CEO.

Vietweek: Why did you choose Thailand for the IPO and listing and not Vietnam? Is it because Vietnam's stock market is too "weak"?

Somhalai Panichewa: We planned to develop infrastructure projects in Vietnam and thought of the country's stock exchange for IPO since 2004. At that time the market was so high. However, two years later we changed the plan since the booming market collapsed, going down until now. We have waited for it to recover. It has but not as much as we expected while our projects cannot wait longer. The longer the wait the higher the risk for them.

Fortunately, SET has a new policy that allows Thai-owned offshore businesses to list. SET is the biggest stock market in ASEAN with trading volumes of US$3 billion a day. Amata Corporation, the parent company of Amata Vietnam, listed its shares on SET and would help its subsidiary with the IPO and listing. That was why we chose Thailand.

When do you think Amata Vietnam will list its shares on SET?

We applied for the IPO in January after over a year of preparation. We hoped Amata Vietnam would be the first to benefit from the policy that SET wants to promote as a new product to enhance the market. The offering will likely be in the second quarter of 2013. We will issue around 140 million shares in the IPO at the par value of 0.50 baht (VND360). The funds raised from SET will be used to fund the Perfect Smart City Project in Dong Nai Province. The complex, quite close to the new international airport [in Dong Nai], will have an area for high-tech, township, commerce and financial purposes that will be more than 10 times bigger than our current project, Amata Industrial Park in the same province. The new project was our commitment as an infrastructure and real estate developer to the Vietnamese government.

 

Our plan [is] dual listing in both Thailand and Vietnam. We still keep an eye on the Vietnam market and do not give up. We still believe the potential is there in the Vietnamese market.

Who do you think will be interested in Amata Vietnam's shares?

Investors have been interested in Amata since Amata Corporation listed its shares on SET. They were following and watching investments by Amata Corporation and Amata Vietnam. Many investors, including foreigners in Thailand, own Amata Corporation's shares already. The IPO will offer them another opportunity to own Amata's other shares and open a new door for foreign investors in Thailand to come to Vietnam. We planned road shows in Thailand and abroad to promote the offering.

How different is it to list shares in stock markets in Vietnam and elsewhere?

There are many differences between developed and underdeveloped stock markets. Vietnam's stock market is not mature; the market in Thailand is developed with sufficient regulations and rules that are enforced to protect investors.

We expected our IPO to fetch a good price thanks to the developed market and also our brand. Under rules in Thailand we cannot say how much we expect [to raise] or mention other sensitive figures from the IPO.

Listing in Thailand alone was not our plan, but dual listing in both Thailand and Vietnam. We still keep an eye on the Vietnam market and do not give up. We still believe the potential is there in the Vietnamese market. When the market improves we will come back. We will learn from the Thai market first and then come back and apply the experience for listing in Vietnam.

Do you think Vietnamese businesses should list abroad?

Of course they should. However, they should have a story to tell investors. The more interesting the story is, the more interested the investors are. Vietnamese businesses have to do a lot of things. Our parent listed shares in Thailand already and shared its experience with Amata Vietnam, so we did not have to do much for the listing. But Vietnamese businesses are different. Listing abroad costs much money and time but businesses will gain much more than in domestic stock market. Firstly, shares will fetch higher prices. Secondly, your management level will improve due to following international standards. The image and market expansion will benefit though some businesses do not even consider these two aspects when they list abroad.

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