Monday, February 28, 2011

Thailand seen holding onto crown of "Detroit of Asia"

Martin Apfel, president of General Motors' Thailand/Southeast Asia operations

Thailand makes news in the US:

Half a world away from the cold streets of Michigan, General Motors (GM.N) is getting ready to roll its first diesel engine out of a recently opened factory in eastern Thailand.

Nearby, Ford Motor (F.N) is building a manufacturing plant and Suzuki Motor (7269.T) aims to start producing environmentally friendly cars at a new factory in 2012.

Welcome to the "Detroit of Asia", a vast area 120 km (75 miles) east of Bangkok, where durian orchards have given way to car plants over the past decade and vehicles are made for export to more than 200 countries.

While facing increasing competition as an auto manufacturing hub from countries including India, China and Indonesia, Thailand looks likely to retain its dominant position and win more investment thanks to its low wage costs and strong infrastructure

Indian parts firms eye FTA potential

Indian parts firms eye FTA potential'

Indian auto-parts makers and renewable-energy firms are looking to Thailand as an investment hub for Southeast Asia because of the privileges offered under the Asean-India free-trade agreement, says India's largest industrial group.
Bhaskar Sarkar, executive director and secretary of EEPC India, said Thailand was the most attractive Asean destination and investors want to capitalise on the upcoming Asean Economic Community single market in 2015.

Lenso increases marketing budget

Lenso's lightweight alloys
Lenso Wheel, the distributor of Lenso and Raiden wheels, plans to spend more than Bt50 million on marketing events and advertising this year to help boost its sales.

Sent from my iPad

Automotive growth drives new investments

Amata to co-invest in Chinese meter-makers' Thai expansion
Amata Corp has agreed with China-based Holley Group that the companies will co-invest about Bt2 billion in expanding the meter-maker's business in Thailand.

Sent from my iPad

New Section; Automotive Newsletters

Check out the new section "Automotive Newsletters".

First entry is L&P's Newsletter #131, February 2011: New investment promotion for sustainable development makes high tech machinery more competitive in Thailand.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vintage wheels on display

Bangkok Post:
Seacon Square and Vintage Bike Thailand are displaying a collection of more than 100 vintage bikes at the 2 Wheels Story fair, which takes place in Seacon Square from Thursday to Sunday, March 6, 10:30am-9pm.

Indian parts firms eye FTA potential

Bangkok Post:

Indian auto-parts makers and renewable-energy firms are looking to Thailand as an investment hub for Southeast Asia because of the privileges offered under the Asean-India free-trade agreement, says India's largest industrial group.
Bhaskar Sarkar, executive director and secretary of EEPC India, said Thailand was the most attractive Asean destination and investors want to capitalise on the upcoming Asean Economic Community single market in 2015.

Friday, February 25, 2011

AFG Meeting Report 25 February 2011

Thanks to Graeme Sheard, KPMG for his interesting presentation on the development of the tax situation in Thailand and ASEAN at the Holiday Inn.

Presented by Graeme Sheard, KPMG Tax Partner

Here is Doc Iain Corness article for Pattaya Mail:

The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) invited Graeme Sheard from KPMG to address the group at the latest meeting last week, held in the Holiday Inn.
The buzz words for KPMG are “cutting through complexity”, and corporate taxation is certainly complex, though Graeme Sheard did manage to show where the tunnel was, and the faint flicker of light at the end of it.
With KPMG being a very large conglomerate, they have been able to carry out annual surveys and then extrapolate the results into trends.  For the automotive industry, the prediction is that it will be quite different by the next decade with mobility solutions to counter traffic problems – perhaps you will not need to ‘own’ a car, but just pick up and drop off in the cities.  There will be specific vehicles for specific environments – the advent of ‘city cars’ is here already, but will increase.  ‘Green’ vehicles will increase – electric, hybrid and fuel cell.  All these will bring about major changes in the supply chain, and also bring in new industry participants, particularly in the battery/electric motors area.
Graeme, with his crystal ball, also predicted that as the customs revenue falls with Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s), there will be other taxes applied to counteract the government shortfall.  The most obvious one is VAT, and predictions of an increase from 7 to 10 percent were made.
He made mention of some other FTA’s which are currently being hammered out, including India, the European Union, ASEAN and Peru.  Graeme Sheard did ask if any of the AFG members were trading with Peru, but at this stage the answer was in the negative!
The veritable minefield in the regulations of working within an FTA were shown, with advice being given to ensure there is an indemnification clause in any agreements, as penalties can be very high.
He also suggested that for some members of the AFG, the penalties of importing under an FTA can be such that it may even be better just to import at the domestic rate of tax.
Altogether, this was one of the better addresses that the AFG has provided for its members.
James Beeson, the President of the AFG mentioned that there has been a change in direction, as regarding speakers.  The AFG committee has determined that if they have the subject matter or topic, then it is easier to identify and find appropriate speakers to talk, rather than find the speaker and then find a topic.  It is also expected that this method should also expand the network of the AFG, as it will be necessary to find some speakers outside of their current network.
Those who are interested in contacting the AFG can do so through

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Old & New AFG Committee

Photograph: Peter Richards
Thanks to Mike Diamente (DANA) and Ray d'Silva (BOSCH Chassis Systems) for their leadership over the last years! The new committee will try hard to fill the footsteps….

AFG 2011 Committee Positions:
President: James Beeson
Vice President: Peera Thaweechart
Secretary and Treasurer: Maurice Bromley (the Bully)
Web and Blog:  Uli Kaiser

The entire AFG committee consists of:
Maurice Bromley (Go-Dove), Armin Walter (EFTEC), Frank Holzer (GM), James Beeson (Ultimate G), Peera Thaweechart (Albatross) , Randy Simmons (Inductotherm), Shaun Burke (Cromwell Tools) & Uli Kaiser (EMAG Group).

The ex officio members are: George T. Strampp (AMS Automotive Manufacturing Solutions) and Leigh Wilmott (Austrade) 

Also check out the PDN article about the meeting here.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Governors Session : “Thailand and the Global Automotive Industry” at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011

Remarks for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Governors Session : “Thailand and the Global Automotive Industry” at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011, Friday 28 January 2011, 11.00-12.00 hrs. Congress Centre, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland

BOI - Newsletter

The positive momentum in the economy that ushered in 2010 was sustained throughout the year as Thailand moved from economic contraction in 2009 to a full year growth of near 8 percent. In fact, several data points hit all time highs last year making it one of the best years for economic growth in the nation’s history and recalling the times of rapid growth just a couple of decades back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BMW: Less is more

BMW's inline-six petrol engine could be a thing of the past in Thailand - should the current excise tax regime remain in place.

Currently, engines displacing less than 2,000cc are subject to 30% excise tax (25% and 22% for E20 and E85 capabilities, respectively), while those sized between 2,500-3,000cc face 40% (35% and 32% accordingly).
This 10% difference in excise tax can bring down the prices of BMW's luxury cars by as much as half-a-million baht, according current pricing trends.

Check out the Bangkok Post article here

Toyota opposes tax revamp

Toyota, Thailand's biggest automaker, reiterated yesterday it strongly opposed revamping the excise tax structure on the one-ton pickup truck and its variants.

"Toyota along with Isuzu and Mitsubishi disagrees with the tax restructuring that will add production costs to pickups and its variants, as these autos are performing well at the moment in both domestic and overseas markets," said Toyota Motor Thailand president Kyoichi Tanada.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On the way to 1.8 Mio vehicles in 2011

Thailand's automobile production jumped 40.81 per cent year-on-year in January to reach 146,234 units, spurred on by exports and a healthy domestic economy, industry sources said Thursday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thai Customers Department Web Site

Check out the Thai Customs Department web site for info on "Rules of Origin" based on which Thailand extends preferential tariff rates to specified countries.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Easy Pay Offered at Kent Rylee Automotive Solutions

Don't put off doing today what could strand you tomorrow.  Want a great financing solution for today's recommended services or repairs?  Talk with one of our Service Advisors today about the powerful NAPA EasyPay Credit Card.
-Instant Credit Available
Qualified customers can be approved for up to $5,000 instantly!
And when you use the NAPA AutoCare Easy Pay Consumer Financing Program to purchase qualifying services and repairs, your Peace of Mind NAPA Warranty coverage is extended to 24 months/24,000 miles nationwide!  For more details visit or call 479-636-3333.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Amata expects to ride auto industry

Amata Corporation Plc, Thailand's largest industrial estate operator, foresees healthier growth prospects this year, thanks to the boom in the automotive industry, says director and chief operating officer Viboon Kromadit.
"Last year was one of the golden years due to an increase in automotive production to an estimated 1.65 million units," he said, adding that 2011 output could exceed forecasts of 1.8 million units because the country's strong production base meant manufacturers would not move operations elsewhere.

A little more clarity on Geely (a little less on Volvo?)

More arcane corporate governance stuff...

In my previous post, I noted that Geely's 2008 and 2009 annual reports mentioned an unnamed "associate" of Li Shufu as co-owners of the entity that has ultimate control over the sprawling Geely empire.

In the interest of ensuring my readers (all three of you) have the most up-to-date information that I have, and in the interest of the pursuit of truth and transparency, I think a new post is in order.

Fortunately for the English speaking world, Geely is listed in Hong Kong, which means that, not only is the company required to report significant events to its shareholders, but it is also required to do so in English. (Call me lazy, but plowing through a 150-page annual report in Chinese is not my idea of fun--not to mention the fact that mainland reporting standards still don't measure up to those in HK.)

Here is what I have learned today. I can now say for certain that Li Shufu has complete (legal) control over the Geely listed company. This document (pdf) that I found on the HKSE website just happens to mention that Li Shufu owns 90 percent of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Ltd. (ZGHGL), which means the "associate" (in the yellow box) can own no more than 10 percent. (See abbreviated corporate structure below.)

What the document also spells out is exactly which entity now owns Volvo. As you can see in the structure below, I have added a couple of boxes at the bottom left side. The green box is "controlled" by ZGHGL (which we now know is 90% owned by Li Shufu). The orange box is Volvo, which is clearly owned and controlled, not by the listed Geely Auto Holdings (the purple box), but by Li Shufu's unlisted ZGHGL.

That explains why Li Shufu has been quoted as saying, "Volvo is Volvo, and Geely is Geely", meaning that these two companies are entirely separate entities. The only thing they have in common is control by Li Shufu.

This means a couple of things.

First, Li Shufu almost certainly had to rely on bank loans in order to pull off the Volvo purchase. Since the cash on the HK-listed Geely Auto Holdings' balance sheet belongs, not only to Li Shufu, but also to the company's public shareholders, Li Shufu could not have used Geely's cash to fund even part the Volvo purchase. Whatever cash was put into the deal would have had to come from any of the entities on the Li Shufu side of the chart. (Yes, it's possible Li could have borrowed money from Geely for the Volvo purchase.)

And while it's possible those entities have other business operations of which we aren't aware, the likelihood that these apparent shell companies were sitting on the necessary cash to fund the deal is pretty slim. Of $1.3billion in cash given to Ford in the Volvo purchase (Ford also got a note for $200 million), about $588 million came from Daqing and Jiading local governments, the remaining $712 million would have had to come from Li Shufu-related entities. At least part of that must have come from loans. (Early indications were that several major state-owned banks were lining up to help with the Volvo purchase, but this has not been verified since the purchase took place last August.)

Second, because Volvo is now 100 percent owned by an unlisted entity, we will no longer have full transparency into the company's operations.