The Thai economy stares at an uncertain future because the Covid-19 outbreak is likely to prolong until the first half of 2021, Krungthai Bank (KTB) said.
KTB president Payong Srivanich said during the bank shareholders’ meeting that commercial banks must beware of this factor, as it may cause non-performing loans (NPLs) to increase, adding that commercial banks must set up debt reserves to maintain stability in the long term.
“The bank will evaluate the situation periodically by focusing on preventing risks to maintain stability in the long term and adjust the loan portfolio to cope with risks,” he said. “In 2019, the bank had adjusted the direction by focusing on maintaining loan growth and reducing NPLs.”
He said the bank must set up more debt reserves from the second quarter of this year onwards to prevent risks and uncertainties due to the economic slowdown and coronavirus outbreak. He added that the bank had set up 100 per cent debt reserve to cope with risks from granting loans to Thai Airways International (THAI), which will be added in the second-quarter performance report.
“Risks from granting loans to THAI will cause less impact on the bank because we granted short-term loans to be used as circulating funds,” he said. “We believe that THAI’s rehabilitation plan will be approved by the court, while we will cooperate with creditors and debtors closely to maintain the bank’s benefits.”
He said the bank was waiting for the Bank of Thailand (BOT) to issue guidelines for the second phase of measures to help debtors, adding that the guidelines would help commercial banks to assist debtors in the same way.
“The bank will take care of customers as much as possible, such as postponing the debt payment, restructuring the debt,” he said. “BOT and the Thai Bankers Association will discuss this issue closely.”
He added that the meeting haD approved the allocation of net profits of 2019 for interim dividend payment.
“The bank’s net profit in 2019 was Bt26.325 billion of which Bt4.99 million was dividend for preferred shares, Bt10.523 billion was dividend for common shares, and Bt15.796 was remaining profits to be paid in the next period. Preferred shareholders will receive a dividend of Bt0.9075 per share, while common shareholders will receive a dividend of Bt0.753 per share,” he said. “We do not have to allocate net profits in 2019 as reserve funds because the bank has already allocated it.”
Four major players in the transport system have picked up bid documents for the MRT Orange Line which runs from Bang Khun Non to Min Buri.
Surachet Laophulsuk, deputy governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), said four companies have picked up bid documents, which are available from July 10 to 24.
The companies are Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited, BTS Group Holdings, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction and Bangkok Expressway and Metro (BEM). The MRTA has opened the bids for private companies to invest in the project and is hopeful that a foreign company will also be interested in the project.
They have until September 23 to submit their tenders, which will be opened by the MRTA on September 30. The route is expected to start operating in the next three years.
Jul 11. 2020A hackathon at Stony Brook University in New York. Before the pandemic arrived employers were increasingly using these competitions to search for talent, at a time when many say they’re skeptical that a college degree alone reflects a candidate’s ability to do a job. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Emma Harris for The Hechinger Report.
By Special To The Washington Post · Jon Marcus · BUSINESS
Among the many frustrations ahead for millions of Americans thrown out of work by the pandemic is one that may surprise them: To get a new job, it’s increasingly likely they will have to take a test.
As the number of candidates balloons while health risks make it hard for hiring managers to meet with them in person, a trend toward “pre-hiring assessments” – already underway before the novel coronavirus swept through the country – is getting a huge push.
With so many applicants, “you need filters,” said Richard Price, a research fellow at the Christensen Institute, which studies innovation. “You’re creating a quasi-audition for jobs.”
The recession and health crisis is speeding momentum for job tests that, before the pandemic, was driven by more than just logistical considerations.
Skeptical that university degrees are the best measure of whether candidates have the skills they need, employers were already looking for ways applicants could prove themselves – including in fields where that was not previously required.
“It’s like try before you buy,” Price said.
Growing equity concerns resulting from the explosion of racial justice protests now are also playing a role in this. They give companies another reason to stop relying principally on academic degrees when hiring, because candidates who are black are less likely than white candidates to have one, according to the U.S. Department of Education, for reasons including cost and access.
“With employers fielding a lot more applicants, how do we help create equitable processes for people at the top of the funnel?” said Stephen Yadzinski, who works on innovations in workforce technology for Jobs for the Future – an advocacy group that makes its own job finalists take on work-related projects as a part of the decision process.
By removing the requirement of a degree, this process holds the promise of opening doors to capable candidates who never got one, he and others said.
“We’ve conflated employability with university degrees. We shouldn’t,” said Jacob Hsu, CEO of Catalyte, which conducts tests designed to find job candidates who have the potential to become software engineers, whether or not they went to college.
If a college degree was the only measure of potential, he said, no one would have ever hired Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates or Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who all dropped out.
Employers “are starting to recognize that there are people with the talent they’re looking for that don’t come from Harvard or the other colleges they have historically recruited from,” said Alex Linley, a co-founder and CEO of the testing firm Cappfinity.
Nearly one in four businesses now conduct such assessments, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports; nearly 40% of hiring executives expect them to become widespread within three years and 70% within five, according to a survey conducted in 2018 by Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy.
Now, with far more applicants in the pipeline, “I only see pre-hiring assessment gaining momentum,” Price said.
An interview will still come at the end of that process, “but this is a way to cut 10,000 people to 1,000 and then figure out how to sort them,” said Jack Buckley, president and chief scientist at the testing technology start-up Imbellus.
Further driving this trend are advances in technology that make it possible to evaluate how people think and not just what they know, to paraphrase one testing company’s motto. The tests are designed to measure such things as whether applicants can work in teams, communicate and make good decisions.
It’s also a response to falling confidence in university degrees as measures of career preparedness. Only about one out of 10 business leaders in a Gallup poll strongly agreed that college graduates were ready for the workplace. Some employers, including Apple, Google, IBM, Bank of America and EY – formerly Ernst & Young – have dropped college degree requirements for some new hires altogether.
“There has been an inherent promise and almost the inherent contract of, ‘I’m going to go to this Ivy League university and then walk into a job by virtue of the pedigree I have.’ And that is no longer the case,” said Linley, whose tests present job candidates with scenarios they might confront at client companies – including EY, Deloitte, DHL and KPMG – and measure how they respond.
“There’s no trickery. It’s all very straightforward and transparent,” Linley said. “What we’re trying to do is provide a realistic job preview.”
In the past, employers that tested applicants for jobs would do such things as ask them to agree or disagree with a series of pronouncements, Linley said. Most candidates would naturally give what they assumed to be the answers the employer wanted.
Artificial intelligence, gamification and other developing technologies are giving rise instead to what experts call “situational judgment” and “scenario-based” assessment tests. Most require candidates to respond to real-world situations. One, developed for the McKinsey & Company consulting firm by Imbellus, puts them on a simulated coral reef or in a mountain valley where they have to work alone to save the endangered ecosystem.
“It’s not just, ‘Here’s my resume and here’s my degree’ and that’s your marker of talent,” said Caitlin Storhaug, McKinsey’s director of global recruiting communications.
Online forums to help applicants beat tests such as these have inevitably sprung up, along with coaching services to help candidates prepare for them; a human-resources executive at one large tech firm said it hadn’t moved to widespread use of pre-hiring assessments because of the potential that people would cheat. (The creators of these tests respond that AI lets them build in unpredictable twists and turns, and that they monitor response patterns and completion times to fend off cheating.)
The most sophisticated, customized tests are also pricey. “The difference between what we’re doing and the old-school way of hiring a person is cost,” Buckley said.
But it’s cheaper than hiring the wrong person.
Storhaug said though there isn’t yet a critical mass of results to quantify this, the people hired after taking the McKinsey test “do have really good problem-solving skills. There haven’t been mis-hires.” And as the cost begins to fall, Buckley said, “I don’t think [these tests] are going away.”
Employers also were starting to show up at events such as hackathons to watch prospective candidates show their stuff, under pressure and in real time – a practice interrupted by the pandemic but likely to resume when the competitions do.
At a hackathon at Stony Brook University before the coronavirus disruptions, for example, tech firm representatives prowled for talent among the 150 hackers from around the country vying for $5,000 in prizes that would reward their ingenuity and hands-on skills.
“A resume is a two-dimensional view of someone,” Ryan Behan, senior director of engineering at Netsmart Technologies, said as he gestured around the all-purpose room where the busy hackathon was underway. “You come to a place like this, you’re seeing them in their element.”
More than 10,000 participants got job or internship offers last year from companies they encountered at Major League Hacking events, the organization says.
Employers “get that one-on-one time with students and can watch them work through problems,” said Jonathan Gottfried, the official collegiate hackathon league’s co-founder.
Students say they like this route to a career.
“It was a much better way to show off what I can do” than by putting on a suit and sitting through an interview, said Adam An, a senior at the College of William & Mary who got an internship with Capital One through an encounter at a hackathon.
At Stony Brook, tired students sat behind laptops covered with stickers commemorating past hackathons, at tables dripping with colored wires. The daylight outside was kept at bay by shades pulled over the windows.
“This is the absolute best way you can demonstrate your skills, your knowledge and your drive,” said Muntaser Syed, a 36-year-old doctoral student in computer engineering at Florida Institute of Technology. “Staying up for 40 hours to build something shows how driven you are.”
Employers “can even test us here, and we can deliver and really show them what we can do,” said Aishwarya Kanchi Ranganath, 23, a graduate student in biochemical engineering at Rutgers.
And Donald Finlayson, a 21-year-old cybersecurity major at Johnson & Wales University, said a friend who has already graduated got a job at a company that “only asked him about the hackathons,” despite his long list of credentials.
Frank Jacovino, vice president of operations at IPVideo, circulated among the hackers as a judge and said he was keeping one eye open for prospective employees.
“We get lots of students that come in, they give us a resume, and ‘We took this course, we took that course’ ” – they all look the same,” Jacovino said.
“What we’re looking for is for the kids that are really passionate about the technology, going to hackathons or doing their own projects at home,” he said. “They’re the ones that we’re most interested in.”
A rehabilitation plan for Thai Airways International (THAI) will be ready in two to three weeks, but it is too early to say whether the carrier will resume international flights in August, the airline’s acting president said on Thursday (July 9).
Chansin Treenuchagron was speaking after talks between THAI management and staff following the appointment of a “Survival Team” to work out a business plan for the ailing carrier.
“Employees still have some concerns, such as welfare. I can assure you that I will help with everything, but we have to wait for the court to finish considering the rehabilitation plan first,” said Chansin.
The carrier has filed for debt rehabilitation and must submit its rehab plan at the Bankruptcy Court on August 17. The details of the plan will be announced at a press conference after the Bankruptcy Court rules on whether it will take the case, Chansin added.
He said it was too early to say whether THAI will resume international flights in August, since the airline was still assessing the situation.
Meanwhile, Chansin has ordered the Survival Team to draw up both urgent and short-term business plans covering the period from July 9 to October 31. The team is being led by Chai Eamsiri and consists of Suwattana Sibunruang, Capt Chawan Rattanawaraha and other 18 members of THAI departments.
Chansin has also assigned two new executives to the THAI management team. Soradej Namruangsri is the new executive vice president of operations and director of the Thai Airways Flight Support Centre 904, while Non Klintha becomes acting executive vice president of Corporate
Strategy and Sustainable Development.
THAI employees expressed satisfaction with the appointments of the Survival Team and executives, said Chansin.
In a bid to compete directly with Thai Vietjet Air, Thai AirAsia is planning to fly out of both Bangkok airports.
“We aim to deploy three to four planes from our fleet of 60 to operate direct flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport to provinces like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Krabi, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani,” said Tassapol Bijleveld, chief executive officer at Asia Aviation Plc (AAV). “Currently, Thai Vietjet Air is the only budget airline to fly out of Suvarnabhumi, and we see this as a good opportunity, now that the government has eased lockdown measures and allowed domestic flights to continue.
“Also, THAI and Thai Smile’s flights have significantly reduced over the past months, while Bangkok Airways is not our direct competitor as it is not classified as a budget airline and has different target customers,” Tassapol added. “Having Thai AirAsia flying out of Suvarnabhumi will be a good alternative for those who do not want to travel to Don Mueang.”
The CEO added that Thai AirAsia has been gradually increasing the number of aircraft in operation since the lockdown was lifted. “In June, we used 15 aircraft from our fleet of 60, while in July we have 20 aircraft flying to domestic destinations. However, the frequency of flights is not that high due to Covid-19, and the company will continue operating at a loss until foreign tourists are allowed to enter Thailand.”
Thai AirAsia operates 25 domestic flights out of Don Mueang Airport and is planning to lure more customers by offering flights for as little as Bt890 from July 12 for departure between August 2020 and March 2021.
At a teleconferenced International Energy Agency (IEA) forum on Friday (July 10), Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said Thailand had the potential to become a regional leader in the production of electric energy.
The minister was co-chairing the meeting on the subject of transitioning to clean energy.
In his speech on Thailand’s policy and vision for dependable and sustainable power, Sontirat said since taking over as minister, he focused on the “energy for all policy” until it was sustainably implemented in both the private and public sectors. Now, he said, he is following up with a “re-energising Thailand” policy, which will focus on accelerating infrastructure investment and stimulating the economy through different projects.
One of the important projects under this policy is community-based power plants, which will not only generate energy from clean sources, but also strengthen grassroots economy by generating income, reducing expenditure and developing new sources of fuel.
The Energy Ministry has become an important force in alleviating the effects of Covid-19 by issuing financial measures and regulations to ease the burden on small and medium-sized businesses as well as pushing through the transition to clean energy, such as driving forward the 50-megawatt solar project.
Sontirat wrapped up his speech by thanking IEA for making recommendations for promoting the use of clean energy in the region.
Grab Financial Group (Thailand) expects to give out 20 to 30 per cent fewer loans this year, missing its Bt3 billion target due to the Covid-19 fallout.
Worachat Luxkanalode, country head of Grab Financial Group (Thailand), said the firm adjusted its strategy in the second half of this year to ease the burden on more than 100,000 drivers and restaurant operators who are partners of the company.
He said Grab Finance grants loans to restaurant operators, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), such as small eateries and food stalls.
“We limit the loans to Bt1 million per person and set up a daily instalment based on the borrower’s income and behaviour,” he said. “This move aims to help those who cannot take bank loans and protects them from loan sharks.”
He also said the company has suspended debt repayments for 20,000 drivers suffering from the Covid-19 outbreak, adding that since the end of last year, the company has granted up to Bt500 million in loans.
“In June, 70 per cent of the drivers were able to make their payments, while the rest had to ask for more time. So, we have to monitor this issue to see if these will turn into non-performing loans [NPLs],” he said. “If these drivers are still unable to pay their debt or if their income has decreased, the company will restructure the debt for them. So, the company does not expect too many NPLs this year.”
He said Grab is encouraging drivers to return to work now that more and more people are using the cab-ordering service, adding that some drivers had returned to their hometowns during the lockdown.
“Currently, motorcycle taxis are able to earn and make their Bt200 or so daily payments. Car drivers, however, are still postponing their debt payment,” he said. “However, the company has set up a 100-per-cent debt reserve to deal with NPLs.”
The company is also getting ready to debut GrabInsure in the third quarter of this year, which will offer insurance at cheap premiums that can be paid on a daily basis.
“We will also introduce delivery insurance for customers,” he said, adding that the company will partner up with China’s Zhong An, US’s Chubb and Thailand’s Muang Thai Life Assurance and Sunday insurance companies.
Grab is also continuing to expand the use of its GrabPay app by allowing users to register via banks nationwide and is organising marketing campaigns encouraging customers to pay via GrabPay Wallet instead of a credit card.
“Once the Covid-19 outbreak is resolved, the proportion of transactions via GrabPay Wallet should rise by more that 50 per cent compared to transactions on other Grab platforms and should hit 80 per cent next year,” he said.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Ben Bain · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, WORLD, POLITICS, COURTSLAW, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS, ASIA-PACIFIC
Vanguard Group, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are getting their chance push back on an escalating risk to their bottom lines: threats from Capitol Hill and the Trump administration to dramatically curtail U.S. investments in Chinese companies.
The U.S. financial titans are among firms participating Thursday in a Securities and Exchange Commission event that’s being held to debate the potential perils Americans face when investing in China and other emerging markets.
The seemingly benign topic belies an extremely contentious backdrop in Washington. The Senate unanimously passed a bill in May that’s now under consideration in the House that could lead to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Baidu Inc. and additional Chinese businesses being kicked out of U.S. stock markets.
The legislation’s Republican and Democratic backers say it’s needed to protect investors from fraud because China isn’t complying with U.S. regulations that require corporate audits to be scrutinized by accounting regulators.
The issue has attracted the attention of President Donald Trump, who has ratcheted up his attacks on Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic and as U.S.-China tensions mount due to Hong Kong. Trump has ordered regulators to review Chinese companies’ lack of adherence to U.S. accounting rules and submit recommendations by early August on how to fix the problem, putting the SEC at the center of the fight. The president’s critiques come as slumping poll numbers show he faces a difficult road to winning re-election in November.
Vanguard is among giant money managers whose mutual funds invest in Chinese businesses listed on U.S. exchanges, while NYSE and Nasdaq make millions of dollars in fees by allowing Chinese shares to be traded on their platforms. Thursday’s SEC roundtable offers the financial firms the chance to tout the benefits of allowing American investors to tap fast-growing emerging markets and offer their own ideas for potential reforms.
“While it is premature to speculate on the possible impacts of pending legislation, Vanguard believes that global diversification and investing in China is beneficial for investors,” the company said in a statement.
NYSE said it’s “pleased to come together with industry participants to advance the dialogue on how we can best ensure that U.S. capital markets remain the envy of the world.” In a July 8 comment letter to the SEC, Nasdaq Chief Legal Officer John Zecca said the exchange operator hopes the roundtable will “generate actionable solutions to address the risks posed by certain emerging market companies.”
The event is also featuring SEC staff and executives from major accounting firms. It’s not expected to result in swift policy changes as most regulations take months or even years to enact.
An early panel at the SEC roundtable included considerable China bashing courtesy of famous short seller Carson Block. The Muddy Waters Capital founder said that when Chinese companies trading in the U.S. blow up, American affiliates of global accounting firms should be held financially responsible. The proposal is provocative because U.S. accounting firms have no role in scrutinizing the books of Chinese companies, which are typically examined by Chinese audit affiliates.
Block, who has long argued that Chinese businesses lack transparency and are ripping off U.S. investors, said audits of such firms amount to a “rubber stamp.”
Adding urgency to the debate over Chinese companies is this year’s high-profile accounting scandal at Luckin Coffee Inc. Since reaching a high of $50 a share in January, the Chinese chain has cratered more than 90% in Nasdaq trading, a plunge that’s erased about $11 billion of market value. Following an internal investigation, Luckin disclosed earlier this month that fabricated transactions had inflated its 2019 revenue by about $300 million.
The bill that cleared the Senate would kick Chinese firms out of U.S. markets if they don’t cooperate with inspectors at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board for three straight years. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton has said he supports the legislation because denying access to PCAOB examiners creates an “unlevel playing field” for U.S. investors.
Clayton, in remarks prepared for Thursday’s event, said he expected the panelists’ comments to inform recommendations that regulators are preparing for Trump.
The requirement that all companies that trade on U.S. exchanges submit their audits for PCAOB inspections was implemented in the wake of Enron Corp.’s 2001 accounting scandal. There are more than 200 Chinese corporations that have been allowed to sell shares in the U.S. without complying, according to the PCAOB. Their market capitalization is roughly $1.8 trillion, with Alibaba making up about one-third of the total.