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PTT'S IPO: 85-second sell-out 'suspicious'

November 17, 2001

After only one minute and 25 seconds, it was all over. The record-setting completion of the subscription to 220 million shares in the initial public offering of PTT Plc, the state-controlled energy company, raised doubts among those investors failing to get a piece of the action, as the order-processing took place at almost the speed of light.

Here is how the processing of the IPO subscriptions worked at 9.30am on Thursday. Some may say that it looked like a game show.

Five banks - Siam Commercial Bank, Bangkok Bank, Thai Farmers Bank, Bank of Ayudhya and Krung Thai Bank - participated in the processing of PTT's IPO shares. But Siam Commercial Bank, equipped with the best computer system, was the main arranger, and the orders of all the banks were eventually funnelled to its main data system.

At 2,600 branches nationwide of the five banks investors could queue up to submit application forms to subscribe to PTT shares, with between 1,000 to 100,000 allowed per investor.

Jarumporn Chotikasathira, an executive vice president of Siam Commercial Bank, estimated that these branches had- had altogether some 10,000 computer terminals available to process the subscription forms.

Bank officers only needed to key in the code number of the application form, the identification number of the subscriber and the number of shares desired.

According to Somchai Sanyalaksiri, another Siam Commercial Bank executive, all the participating computer terminals were allowed, as a preparation, to submit a first order. But only 6,622 orders were up for grabs in case there were many big-time subscribers.

As soon as 9.30am struck, the bank officers punched their keyboards to submit their first order. As a result some 10,000 computers sent 10,000 subscriptions chasing only 6,622 available orders.

So literally the first second was crucial for a request to get matched with an order.

Vichit Suraphongchai and Jada Wattanasiritham, both top executives of Siam Commercial Bank, did not have time to get their seats warm. After 85 seconds, the processing of the 220 million shares was a fait accompli.

Then a batch of 140 million more PTT shares owned by the Finance Ministry was thrown in on a waiting-list basis. The processing of the additional supply of shares continued until there were altogether 12,505 orders for a total of 360 million PTT shares.

The total processing time was four minutes and 47 seconds.

Ratchaburi Electricity Plc's IPO took 17 minutes 33 seconds.

After the dust settled, Siam Commercial Bank was the winner of this game show in terms of orders processed. It mustered 36.7 per cent of the total orders, followed by 18.2 per cent for Bank of Ayudhya, 16.8 per cent for Bangkok Bank, 14.5 per cent for Thai Farmers Bank and 13.5 per cent for Krung Thai Bank.

Bank of Ayudhya's branch network could not match those of Krung Thai Bank or Bangkok Bank in terms of size, but it managed to beat its rivals in speed and efficiency on this particular deal.

Some 55 per cent of the total orders went to investors subscribing to between 1,000 to 10,000 shares.

"The share distribution is very good, because it was spread over a broad range of investors. This will make the stock liquid. And liquidity is very important in stock transactions," Vichit said.

"I think the broad interest in PTT stock of local investors should give the company a big boost when it mounts an international road show to offer the stock to foreign investors," he said.

Since Siam Commercial Bank controlled the main computer data system that matched all the orders, it had an advantage over other participating banks in garnering PTT subscription orders. Other banks sent their orders back to their own main data system before the orders went out again to Siam Commercial Bank's system.

But Jarumporn defended this arrangement. He said his bank had made it clear in the beginning to all the other banks that they should let their orders proceed directly to his bank's main computer system for processing.

"But the other banks elected to let the processing go back to their main systems first," he said.

However, that should not have made much difference since computers can process at almost the speed of light, he said.

Chayotid Kridakon, managing director of SCB Securities Co, also defended Siam Commercial Bank's arrangement of the order processing, saying: "It was impossible for our bank's officers to punch their keyboards first. It all depended on who was quicker."

Thanong Khanthong



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