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Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Thai telco bets on yield to defy political turmoil

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Thailand’s telecom operators are relying on yield to defy the country’s political turmoil. Escalating protests and low valuations make it an odd time for a financially healthy company like Jasmine International to pursue a $1.4 billion spinoff. Though the plan to give its broadband infrastructure assets a separate listing makes financial sense, investors may need to be tempted with sweeteners.

Bangkok-listed Jasmine plans to sell its core 610,000-kilometre optical fibre cable network and 16,000 access nodes into the fund and then lease them back. The operator will retain a one-third stake in the newly listed fund. Jasmine will use the proceeds to expand its broadband business in a country where operators face minimal competition, and penetration for households was below 23 percent in 2012.

The spinoff plan follows two similar Thai infrastructure fund offerings last year. Rival telecom operator True Corp, majority owned by Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, raised $1.8 billion in December by spinning off a hodgepodge of towers and cables as part of a cash call. In April, Skytrain operator BTS Group Holdings raised $2.1 billion in Thailand’s largest initial public offering. Both have underperformed the country’s benchmark stock market index since they were listed.

from Photographers' Blog:

Nights with the Bangkok protesters

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Bangkok, Thailand

By Athit Perawongmetha

Thai anti-government protests have been going on for some three months and during weeks of political unrest my attention has been focused on the action of the daily news.

The protesters’ takeover of major intersections in the city harks back to a tumultuous April and May of 2010, when supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra took to the streets. I now find myself in the same location near Bangkok’s central Lumphini Park where violent street battles between protesters and government security forces took place.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Behind the wave of market anxiety

What has caused the sudden anxiety attack that overwhelmed financial markets after the New Year? We may find out the answer at 8.30 on Friday morning, Eastern Standard Time.

Almost all agree that the market turmoil has been linked to alarming events in several emerging economies -- including Turkey, Thailand, Argentina and Ukraine -- that has spilled over into concerns about more important economies, such as China, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil.

from Global Investing:

It’s not end of the world at the Fragile Five

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding capital-hungry Fragile Five countries, real money managers have not abandoned the ship at all.

Aberdeen Asset Management has overweight equity positions in Indonesia, India, Turkey and Brazil -- that's already 4 of the five countries that have come under market pressure because of their funding deficits.  The fund is also positive on Thailand and the Philippines.

from John Lloyd:

As the world revolts, the great powers will watch

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Civil wars, those raging and those yet to come, present the largest immediate threat to human societies. Some have similar roots, but there is no overall unifying cause; except, perhaps, a conviction that the conflict is a fight to oblivion. Victory or death.

Syria currently leads in this grisly league. Deaths now total well over 100,000 in the war between the country's leader, President Bashar al-Assad,and opposition forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported nearly 126,000 dead last month, and said it was probably much higher. More than 2 million Syrians have left their country as refugees, and 4.25 million have fled their homes to other parts of Syria. Last week, a report by three former war crime prosecutors alleged that some 11,000 prisoners had been tortured, many to death, in “industrial scale killing” by the regime of President Assad.

from The Human Impact:

The din of misogyny at Bangkok protests

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In fiery speeches at protests calling for her ouster, Thailand’s first female Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been called ugly, stupid, a bitch, a slut and a whore.

A university professor recommended sending a large group of men to “sexually snare” her. A decorated doctor offered to give her vaginal repair surgery and to change her sanitary pads, andsaid she could become a nude model because she hasn’t yet reached menopause.

from Breakingviews:

Bangkok’s fiscal bias fans Thai political angst

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Thailand’s turmoil has its roots in extreme inequality. The most recent protests – the latest in an ongoing political crisis – is at least partly a reflection of a deeper chasm worsened by a biased fiscal policy.

from Breakingviews:

Thai mogul emerges on top in supermarket swap

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Thailand’s richest man has emerged on top in a Chinese supermarket swap. Dhanin Chearavanont, whose conglomerate picked up a stake in insurer Ping An and acquired cash-and-carry group Siam Makro earlier this year, is offloading the bulk of his loss-making retail operations in China in return for shares in local rival Wumart Stores. Both sides benefit from the deal worth HK2.9 billion ($373 million) but Dhanin is ahead by an aisle.

from Breakingviews:

Fed liquidity curbs will act as Asia’s detox plan

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Federal Reserve is forcing Asia to kick its addiction to hot money. The prospect of higher U.S. interest rates had made the region’s dwindling trade surpluses look an increasingly dangerous habit. Though markets may be turbulent, pricier local money or cheaper currencies will improve the trade balance for most Asian countries.

from Photographers' Blog:

Spilling oil in Paradise

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Ao Prao Beach, Thailand

By Athit Perawongmetha

I first met Piyapong Sopakhon on Coconut Bay on Samet island. He was surrounded by men in white bio-hazard suits and he stuck out because he was a young boy wearing a simple plastic sheet that protected his small body as well as orange dish-washing gloves that were too big for his small hands. It was as though he had opened up a chest of dress-up clothes and was getting ready for fun -- but  matter at hand was not child’s play -- the gloves were covered in a thick goo of the black gobs that were smeared across the beach -- a toxic spread on golden buttered toast.

Piyapong is not a soldier nor is he a marine biologist. He's just a school boy who, on any other day, would have been told off for skipping class. So I asked him: "Why aren't you in school today?" His reply? “I just want to help.”

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