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Poll rumours rally Shinawatra shares

Chaturon Chaisang may be a popular and familiar figure but he may not be the prime ministerial candidate of his party. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Shares tied to the Shinawatra family rallied Thursday amidst unconfirmed rumours of the entry of Princess Ubolratana into the political arena.

The sales of Shinawatra-linked shares bucked a sell-off in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index.

Thai Raksa Chart, a party linked to exiled former prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, rapidly became the talk of the country Thursday, even though no media dared print speculation that the elder sister of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn might enter the political  area.

Her nomination and acceptance to be the party's only candidate for prime minister became official Friday morning. Before that, the speculation was Thailand's top trending Twitter topic - and the top driver of Shin-linked stocks at the SET.

Thai Raksa Chart is viewed as an offshoot of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party -- also linked to Thaksin and Yingluck -- and was established nine years ago before relaunching late last year.

Shares of SET-listed companies associated with, or with a legacy tied to, the Shinawatra clan surged considerably on the back of circulating rumours and expectations of decent annual dividend yields.

The rally was in contrast with a 0.3% drop in the SET index and lacklustre share prices of SET-listed major telecom operators.

Shares of SC Asset Corporation Plc (SC) rose by 3.4% from Wednesday's close to end the day at 3.04 baht per share, in turnover worth 80.6 million baht.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Thaksin's youngest daughter, is the largest shareholder of SC shares at 29.1%, followed by elder daughter Pintongta Shinawatra Kunakornwong at 28.16%. Khunying Potjaman Damapong, Thaksin's former wife, is the fourth-largest shareholder at 2.8%.

Shares of Advanced Info Service Plc (ADVANC), InTouch Holdings Plc (INTUCH) and Thaicom Plc (THCOM), all of which have a legacy tied to Thaksin, rallied by 1.9%, 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively.

Turnover of ADVANC shares had the most active value, worth 3 billion baht Thursday.

After being acquired by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, InTouch changed its name from Shin Corp in 2011 as the group sought to distance itself from the Shinawatra family. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup.

Thaksin's sister Yingluck, another ousted former prime minister, was once president of the mobile phone unit, according to Bloomberg.

A Temasek-led group bought 49.6% of Shin in 2006 from then-premier Thaksin and later raised its stake to more than 96%, sparking protests and a boycott of Shin products in Thailand, Bloomberg reported.

Thaksin's opponents at the time accused him of selling state assets to a foreign government and avoiding paying tax on the windfall.

Singtel Global Investment Pte Ltd is the largest shareholder of InTouch at 21%, while Advanced Info Service's major shareholder is InTouch at 40.45%. InTouch also holds a 41.14% stake in Thaicom.

Finansia Syrus Securities last month released an earnings preview for ADVANC, expecting the company's fourth-quarter earnings to remain dull.

"Specifically, we expect it to be flat quarter-on-quarter and decrease by 9.9% year-on-year due to revenue that was yet to fully recover because it was capped by fixed-speed packages," Finansia Syrus Securities said.

"Moreover, ADVANC had to amortise the cost of its 1800-megahertz spectrum for a full quarter, while marketing expenses remained high. Given that, we expect ADVANC's 2018 normalised earnings to be flat year-on-year at about 29.9 billion."

The company's 2019 normalised earnings are expected to increase 5.8% year-on-year to 31.6 billion baht, according to Finansia Syrus Securities.

"Looking ahead, there begins to be a downside to our estimate given ADVANC's view that the market will not grow much as a whole and that it will focus more on maintaining market share," the brokerage said.

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