Thai Bourse Picks Outsider for President Amid Market Slump

Thai Bourse Picks Outsider for President Amid Market Slump

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(Bloomberg) — The Stock Exchange of Thailand picked an outsider to lead the bourse out of one of its worst periods in five decades amid a share price slump, an exodus by foreign funds and corporate scandals. 

Asadej Kongsiri, 53, was chosen to become the exchange’s new president for a four-year term starting in September, according to a bourse statement Friday. Asadej is the head of financial advisory services at Deloitte Thailand after working as an investment banker at firms including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has demanded market authorities tighten oversight and crackdown on corporate misconduct and improper stock trading to restore investor confidence. The equities benchmark in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy has slid more than 7% this year, putting it among the world’s worst performers, with about $180 billion of market value erased from a 2023 peak.

“Sentiment in the Thai stock market has been very sluggish with ongoing political noise and a foreign selloff,” said Niwes Hemvachiravarakorn, an investor and founder of the Thai Value Investor Club. “Investors just hope that stock market authorities will improve their communication on any measures or steps to comfort us during one of worst times in my experience of this market.” 

International funds have withdrawn more than $2.7 billion from the country’s domestic equities so far this year as a foreign selloff accelerated with rising concern about domestic political uncertainty and sluggish economic growth. An accounting scandal at Stark Corp. last year heightened scrutiny of hidden financial risks in Thailand.  

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With Asadej’s extensive experience in the financial markets, board members “are confident in his ability to lead and navigate the evolving financial landscape,” the stock exchange said. His appointment will also assist in restoring “investors’ confidence and enhancing the Thai capital market’s attractiveness for both local and foreign investors,” it said. 

Asadej obtained a master’s degree in business from Massachusetts Institute of Technology after completing an engineering undergraduate program in the UK, according to the exchange’s statement. He has also worked at PTT Pcl, the country’s largest energy company, and Finansa Securities Pcl. 

READ: Foreign Investors Flee Thai Stocks, Fueling World’s Biggest Drop

Pakorn Peetathawatchai, the stock exchange’s current president, will complete his second term in the middle of September. Asadej will become the bourse’s 14th president. 

(Adds stock exchange’s comment in sixth paragraph.)

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