Only one bid was accepted on Tuesday in the auction of a 249-million-share block of TPI Polene, made by a Thai construction company offering just 17 baht per share, the Bangkook Post reports. The low bid, at 11.50 baht below current market prices, adds a new complication to the $2.7-billion debt-restructuring saga of Thai Petrochemical Industry. Bidding on Tuesday was the second attempt, after an electronic auction last month failed to attract bidders.
TPI plan administrators are selling the company’s 30.8% stake in its cement subsidiary to raise $250m to repay creditors. Siri Jirapongphan, a member of the TPI planning team, said only two sealed bids were submitted though dozens of investors had been invited to participate. One bidder was disqualified for failing to submit a standby letter of credit of 100 million baht. The other bid proposed 4.23 billion baht, or 17 baht per share. He said the bidder was a Thai construction company, but declined to give details.
"Creditors will have to decide whether the bid is acceptable by Oct 21." If creditors accept the price, they would have to accept a large loss on their debt, as the proceeds from the auction - regardless of the amount - are to be used to clear $250m from TPI’s liabilities.
A second option would be for creditors to accept the shares in lieu of the $250m payment, potentially more rewarding given TPIPL’s market valuation.
Shares of TPIPL, the country’s third largest cement maker, closed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 28.50 baht, down 25 satang, in trade worth 165 million baht. TPI shares rose 20 satang to 15.10 baht, in trade worth 1.04 billion baht.
Andreas Klocke, country representative of the German development bank Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (Kfw), said the decision to sell the shares was not binding and creditors had the option to refuse. "We have the first right of refusal and in reality it depends upon who the buyer is and what are the details of the discussion," he said from Germany.
"I am surprised that the price is so low as there was interest from some international cement makers. Hearing that a construction company won the auction sounds strange." Another banker said the creditors agreed they could ultimately take the shares themselves if the auction results were too low. "We will need to check if our first right to buy is triggered, which would give the creditors the chance to take the shares ourselves," he said.
Paweena Dej-Ittikul, research head at BT Securities, said the low bid would be negative for TPIPL shares in the short term. If creditors turn down the bid and take the shares themselves, it could limit the upside for TPIPL for some time, given market uncertainty about when the shares would be divested into the market. One observer also speculated that the poor results also reflected investor uncertainties over Prachai Leophairatana, the TPIPL founder and plan administrator.
An effort last week by TPI planners to change the company’s board, currently made up mostly of directors appointed by Mr. Prachai, was frustrated after the Central Bankruptcy Court ruled that no changes could be made while the firm remained under rehabilitation. But Pakorn Malakul na Ayudhya, a member of the TPI planning team, insisted that the restructuring plan would be able to move forward despite the court ruling. The court decision has prompted fears that the plan to sell off a majority stake in TPI to PTT Plc, the Vayupak Fund, the Government Savings Bank and the Government Pension Fund would be scrapped.