Lobbyist to head $150m fund
March 20, 2001
CHUPONG Kanchanalak, a veteran political lobbyist with good connections on Capitol Hill in Washington, has been appointed president of Cerberus Asia Capital Management, which will run a US$150 million Thailand Corporate Recovery Fund.
Former US vice president Dan Quayle yesterday presided over the launch of the equity fund. Also in attendance were Bank of Thailand Governor MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul; Kosit Panpiemras, chairman of the Thailand-US Business Council and executive chairman of the Bangkok Bank; plus Dr Karl D Jackson, president of the US-Thailand Business Council.
The Thailand Corporate Recovery Fund will be jointly backed by Cerberus Capital Management of the US, Shinsei Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
Quayle called the establishment of the equity fund "historic", saying it marked the first three-way undertaking between the Japanese government and the US private sector in Asia.
"The emphasis is to help Thai companies to grow themselves and to create jobs for the Thai people," Quayle said.
Cerberus Group is one of the largest global players in corporate restructuring, managing funds worth US$6.7 billion. Shinsei Bank, formerly Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, is a leading Japanese commercial bank, while JBIC is a Japanese government entity created in 1999 as a result of a merger between the Japan Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund.
Chupong, who is also president of the Thailand-US Business Council, will head a small office of about 10 staff. The office, officially opened yesterday by Quayle, is located on the seventh floor of the Asia Sermkij Tower in Bangkok.
Other Thai partners may join in the establishment of the equity fund before it the final closing so its size may get larger than the initially estimated US$150 million.
Frank W Bruno, president of Cerberus Japan KK, said he expected the fund to start investing in small- and medium-sized Thai companies over the next three to six months, targeting such fast-growing businesses as exports, food, tourism and agro-industry.
The initiative to set up the equity fund can be traced back to 1998 to the fourth joint annual meeting between the Thailand-US Business Council and the US-Thailand Business Council in Bangkok. In May last year Quayle led a US delegation to Bangkok to attend the sixth joint annual meeting of the two councils. The end of the meeting came with a pledge to set up the equity fund to participate in Thailand's economic recovery.
In addition to the Thailand Corporate Recovery Fund, this facility also has a non-profit corporate advisory and training service, which will be set up along with a debt fund, which will provide working capital to Thai companies utilising the facility. The combined facility has been developed in close consultation with the governor of the Bank of Thailand.
It is expected that the non-profit advisory and training service will
be launched in May.
BY THANONG KHANTHOG