April 22, 2014 11:00 am JST

Thai drink maker Ichitan makes successful IPO, set to go abroad

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

Ichitan Group Chairman and CEO Tan Passakornnatee attends a ceremony at the Stock Exchange of Thailand on the company's first trading day on Monday.

BANGKOK -- Dressed like a superhero and waving a toy gun, Thailand's green-tea tycoon Tan Passakornnatee looked very pleased with himself at the Stock Exchange of Thailand on Monday. His company, Thailand's largest ready-made tea maker, Ichitan Group, had made a successful debut on the bourse, paving its way to expand overseas.

     "We cannot say which country, but maybe Myanmar or Laos, somewhere near Thailand will be easy to export our products," Tan, who is Ichitan's chairman and CEO, told reporters after Monday's listing. He also hinted that Indonesia is another option.

     Currently, exports account for a mere 1% of Ichitan's annual sales. But the company is set to reach out as it expands its production capability using funds from its stock listing. 

     Ichitan's production capacity will be boosted to 1 billion bottles per year, up from the current 600 million bottles, after completion of the second phase of its plant expansion this fall. Part of the production will be for exports.

     Tan said the company will make adjustments to what the company produces to suit the tastes of each market.

     Several foreign companies are already approaching Ichitan to become distribution partners in overseas markets, according to Tida Vibulvanich, Ichitan's marketing director. She expects that similar offers are likely to increase now that the company has listed.

     On its first trading day, Ichitan shares closed at 16.2 baht ($0.5), or 24% above the initial public offering price of 13 baht. It was the fourth new listing on the Thailand exchange this year. All of these companies managed to beat their IPO prices upon debut. Ichitan was this year's largest IPO to date with market cap of approximately 21 billion baht.