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Nok Air eyes mid-year IPO

Luc Citrinot - 17 January 2013, 09:51

Nok Air plans to issue an initial public offering (IPO) this August. It will be the third carrier in Thailand to go public after Thai Air Asia and soon Bangkok Airways.

BANGKOK- The Bangkok Post reports that the domestic budget carrier Nok Air – a subsidiary of Thai Airways International- asked its financial adviser, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), to prepare a listing application for submission to Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March. The move is part of the expansion strategy of the airline which wants to raise money to fund its growth, according to Nok Air chief executive Patee Sarasin in a talk to Thailand’s daily newpaper.

Details of the planned IPO have yet to be finalised, though Mr Sarasin declared that up to 30% stake in the company would be offered with existing shareholders' holdings reduced pro rata. Nok Air posted an unaudited net profit of 480-500 million baht, a major turnaround from 2011 when its operation was hit by the great flood in October and November.

Nok Air also plans to resume international services this year after they nearly pushed the airline into bankruptcy five years ago. It suspended loss-making international flights to Vietnam and India as part of a turn-around programme implemented four years ago.

But the carrier is now keen to venture again abroad. It already offers international destinations- Vientiane and Penang appear both on its website. However, both destinations are served on a Fly &Ride scheme with passengers being directly transferred by mini-van from Udon Thani to Vientiane (Laos) and from Hat Yai to Penang (Malaysia).  Future direct flights would now include destinations to Myanmar and China. According to Patee Sarasin, only one city will be served in each country.

Nok Air plans to have a fleet of 40 aircraft by 2011 and accommodate over 14 million passengers. The airline currently carries six million passengers with its fleet of 11 aircraft. It serves over 20 destinations within Thailand.

Private regional carrier Bangkok Airways is also looking into an IPO launch in either April or May this year, according to its management. Both Nok Air and Bangkok will then follow Thai AirAsia, which was the first to make its trading on Bangkok’s stock exchange in May 2012.

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