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Economy

King Vajiralongkorn becomes major shareholder in Thailand's third-largest bank

Crown Property Bureau has transferred 3.3% stake in Siam Commercial Bank worth $500m

BANGKOK -- King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has personally become a major shareholder in Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) following the transfer this week of shares held by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) valued at about $500 million. 

The CPB manages assets owned by the Thai crown, including prime real estate in Bangkok and upcountry, and shareholdings in major listed companies such as SCB and Siam Cement Group (SCG).

The CPB has been brought under more direct control of the king since the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, nearly a year ago. 

According to a report posted by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the Stock Exchange of Thailand website on Friday, the CPB's stake in SCB was reduced to 18.14% from 21.47% as of Oct. 2.

In a separate report filed with the SEC by the Crown Property Bureau, it was stated that the 3.33% holding had been transferred to King Vajiralongkorn, but there was no indication as to whether there was any payment for the stake. 

A CPB representative declined comment when contacted by the Nikkei Asian Review.

The 3.3% stake in SCB is worth 16.919 billion baht ($507 million) based on Friday's closing price of 151 baht. The CPB remains the top shareholder in the bank, Thailand's third largest by assets, with the king now the seventh-largest shareholder in his own right.

The move comes after amendments in the Crown Property Act in July. The law was amended so that "management and making benefits" of royal properties will be subject to "the king's will" and managed by his personal appointees.

The CPB is legally defined as a juristic person. It is not a government agency and has no tax obligations. Its rental income and dividends from shareholdings are used to fund the royal family's many activities, which in the past have included rural development projects and education and health schemes. 

Siam Commercial Bank is Thailand's third-largest bank by assets, and the Crown Property Bureau has long been its largest shareholder.   © Reuters

The CPB's assets were estimated to be worth 1.4 trillion baht in 2014 and belonged to the crown as an institution. In the past, CPB property was kept separate from property owned by the king and other members of the royal family privately. 

SCB's shares have seen a four-day downturn since Oct. 3, falling 2.5% compared to a 0.4% rise on the benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand index.

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