Vichai Thongtaeng of Phayathai Hospital Group, said he has no plans to buy debt owed by Thai Petrochemical Industry Plc (TPI), Southeast Asia’s largest petrochemical maker, and that he is not a nominee of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in investing in any company. Vichai represented Thaksin in a battle against the scrutinisation of his assets back in 2001 and may be needed again as the premier’s popularity has now dramatically declined due to various scandals and his dictatorial style of management.
Vichai admits he is interested in shares in both TPI and TPI Polene Plc, which is the country’s third largest cement maker, and often invests in the share market, but denied he has any plans to buy debt, worth about US$400 million, from TPI’s creditors. "Although I do have the expertise to deal with debt, I have less interest in TPI because the company is too large in scale," Vichai said. "I do have good connections with companies and funds, especially those in Singapore, with an interest in buying TPI’s debt, but I have nothing to do with them in this (TPI) case."
"People often think I am the Prime Minister’s man and that (Thaksin) is using me to take over TPI. That’s wrong," he said. "I admit that I personally know him and used to work for him [asset scrutinisation case], yet, I don’t have any business with him. My family and I are saddened by accusations that we are the nominee of the prime minister because all our fortune has been created by our own hands. They don’t belong to anyone but us," he said.