Jittery Business Climate in Thailand

Confusion and uncertainty of the future legal situation of the companies, they represent, drove almost one hundred Scandinavian businessmen out of their homes in the early morning of February 6 to meet at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit for a breakfast briefing on what it is, actually, that the new Royal Thai government is trying to change in the law regulating their very existence in Thailand.
Alarmed by the strong opposition to the law from the day it was proposed from the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce as well as some of their embassies, the hope was that clarification would be served this morning with Mr. Kobkit Thienpreecha of the lawfirm Tilleke & Gibbins as the speaker.
To some extend this was the case. The questions of top interest was isolated to how the authorities will eventually choose to define the term “nominee” when it comes to upholding the new law.
The majority of joint venture companies have over the past twenty years been set up with smaller shareholders as buffer zones between the e.g. 48 pct foreign partner and the 48 pct. Thai partner. While the Thai buffer shareholders are clearly “nominees”, if they have in advance signed over their shares to be replaced at the will of the foreign shareholder, it remains to be seen if the authorities will deem also the big Thai partner a “nominee” if that person is for instance the wife or the husband of the foreign partner.
The meeting did not disperse the current uncertainty among the foreign businessmen operating in Thailand and their uneasy feeling of being only tolerated in Thailand, which the proposed changes have created. But the breakfast was fabulous as always, so at least some things seem to never change.

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