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Change of status quo puts BOA clan out in the cold

The final curtain has fallen on the Euarchukiati family's reign at the Bank of Asia. Thanong Khanthong reports.

 

It is not a jump to say that the final curtain has fallen on the Euarchukiati family's activities at the Bank of Asia after two of their key members Yos and Sak Euarchukiati were voted out of their directorships at Monday's shareholders' meeting.

The status quo had to change after a rift between Yos, a former president of the bank, and Nongluck Phatraprasit, the matriarch of the Phatraprasit family, reached the point of no return. For several months Nongluck had been at odds with Yos over how the two families would share power at BOA now that the Finance One-led alliance, another major bloc of shareholders, has lost its momentum to take over BOA and appears to be satisfied with reducing its role to that of a marginal player.

It was clear that as the largest shareholder in BOA, Nongluck would be calling the shots. Yet Yos could not bring himself to accept that Nongluck held the upper hand over his family's interests.

In her negotiations with Yos, Nongluck was of the opinion that the BOA's 16 member board was too big. She preferred a leaner board with 12 members. In proportion to the major shareholders' stakes in the bank, the Phatraprasit should be entitled to four directors, compared to two for the Euarchukiati's and two for the Finance One Group, she said. The remaining four directorships should be reserved for outside professionals Chavalit Thanachanan, Penwan Thongdeetae, Chulakorn Singhakowin and Wiroj Lowhaphandu who have been parachuted in to run the bank.

But Yos did not agree, which meant the matter had to be decided by a power play at the shareholders' meeting.

Nongluck has raised her family's stake in BOA to almost 50 per cent, effectively taking control. In contrast, the Euarchukiati's stake has dwindled to around 20 per cent. The Finance One-led alliance has also witnessed a dilution of its stake to about 20 per cent. The remaining 10 per cent stake is held by smaller investors.

Mathematically speaking, Nongluck expected to have little trouble passing her agenda at the shareholders' meeting, although there were fears from the management side that chaos might result from a potential hostile takeover bid by Thai Financial Trust. Nongluck's relationship with the Finance One-led alliance has dramatically improved as Anant Asvabhokin, the CEO of Land & Houses and one of the key members of the alliance, appears to have established a better working relationship with her.

Anant's representative was even seen having a pleasant conversation with Chulakorn Singhakowin, the bank's president.

With only 86 per cent of all BOA shares represented at the shareholders' meeting, it was clear that Nongluck would win the majority votes since her almost 50 per cent stake would carry the day. With support from Anant, Nongluck easily mustered more than 75 per cent of all support.

Yos and Sak were voted out, leaving only Vilaiphand Euarchukiati and Lawan Tejapaibul as the Euarchukiati's representatives on the BOA board.

Yos aired his frustration against the Phatraprasit family in a rare interview with Matichon. ''I don't feel regret that the bank should fall under the control of somebody else. I just want management to run the bank the best way it can. What disturbs me most is management's methods, which have given rise to questions about ethics," he said.

Yos charged that the Phatraprasits are trying to make the bank into a Chinese family-styled business. ''This system could leave the bank facing a problem similar to that of the Bangkok Bank of Commerce, particularly with news circulating that [the Phatraprasits] borrowed heavily to increase their stake in BOA. If the Phatraprasit group runs into any difficulties and their loans are called, they would get the money from the Bank of Asia. Who will be able to stop them."

The Phatraprasits have refused to respond to Yos' charges, preferring to dismiss his words as a tantrum.

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