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S&P upgrades Thailand’s sovereign rating outlook top positive

The upgrade by S&P follows previous increases by Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Rating and Investment Information Inc.

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S&P said the positive outlook was a signal that the sovereign rating could be raised over the next 24 months “if there are clearer signs the key political players are committed to the current political framework and that abrupt and unexpected political changes become unlikely”.

S&P Global Ratings has upgraded its outlook on Thailand’s sovereign credit rating to positive from stable, but it cautions that a return to political stability will not be enough to spur an economy beset by external challenges.

“The positive outlook reflects our assessment that political uncertainty in Thailand has begun to ease with the return of an elected government,” S&P said in a release.

“With progress in implementing national reforms and strategic plans, we believe policy continuity and political stability will improve.”

S&P Global Ratings

The ratings agency has affirmed its BBB+ (unchanged) long-term and A-2 short-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings, as well as its A- long-term and A-2 short-term local currency ratings.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said the upgrade by S&P follows previous increases by Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Rating and Investment Information Inc.

Ecommerce

Disrupted by Covid-19, will South-east Asia’s super apps join forces?

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Disrupted by Covid-19, will South-east Asia's super apps join forces?
– Super apps explore inorganic growth options
– Gojek in talks with e-commerce company Tokopedia over $18bn merger
– Grab reported to be preparing for a public listing in the US
– Food delivery and financial services increasingly important segments

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After a year of external expansion and internal reorganisation due to Covid-19, South-east Asia’s super apps appear to be looking towards mergers and public listings as a strategy for future development.

In early January international media reported that Indonesian ride-hailing and payments giant Gojek was in advanced talks about merging with local e-commerce company Tokopedia, in a deal estimated to be worth $18bn.

Any potential merger between the two would be significant for Indonesia. The two local unicorns could create a digital powerhouse, with integrated services ranging from ride-hailing to digital payments, e-commerce and delivery.

A tie-up would also create numerous synergies, such as Gojek’s fleet being able to serve Tokopedia’s online shopping orders. However, there is also some overlap in the digital payments space, where Gojek’s GoPay platform competes with Ovo, which is 35% owned by Tokopedia, although there is speculation that Tokopedia may look to sell its stake in Ovo.

The news was followed by separate reports in late January that Grab, Gojek’s biggest competitor in South-east Asia, had selected investment banks Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan to help work on an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, set to take place in the second half of the year.

The Singapore-headquartered company, which operates ride-hailing, food delivery, e-payment and insurance services in around 400 cities across eight South-east Asian countries, is valued at around $16bn. Its IPO is expected to raise at least $2bn, which would make it the largest overseas share offering by a South-east Asian company.

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Economics

Thailand’s economic outlook for 2021

The government expects inbound tourism to be at around 8 million by the second half of 2021, well below 40 million in 2019

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The Thai economy will grow next year after contracting by almost 10% this year. Next year, the Thai economy is expected to expand 3 to 4% from this year. It will not be until the end of 2022 before the Thai economy returns to its pre-Covid level of 2019.

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Economics

Finance Ministry Considers Additional Incentives to Increase NSF Members

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The Finance Ministry is considering additional incentives to increase members in the National Savings Fund (NSF) as Thailand is projected to become a “super ageing society” by 2031.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said increasing state contributions to the NSF and extending the maximum membership age to 65 years old from 60 as stipulated by law are among the considerations.

He said Thailand is projected to become a fully aged society this year, meaning 20% of the total population is 60 or older. The country is projected to be a super ageing society by 2031, meaning 28% of the total population is 65 or older.

Mr Arkhom said retirement savings are vital because 20 million informal workers in Thailand are without mandatory savings programs.

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