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AOT forms team to fight lawsuits

BackJun 08, 2007

Airports of Thailand's board yesterday resolved to set up a committee to gather witnesses and documents to fight King Power International Group's civil lawsuits.

The committee's members will include officials from AOT and the Attorney General's Office, board spokesman Jermsak Pinthong told reporters. 

The lawsuits were filed by King Power Group after the nullification of its concession for duty-free shops and commercial areas in Suvarnabhumi Airport.

King Power filed the two suits against AOT, demanding compensation of Bt68.9 billion plus interest. It also cited AOT for refusing to renew airport access cards for King Power's 390 staff.

The AOT committee will also take responsibility for preparing documents to file criminal lawsuits against related parties, said Jermsak.

He said that negotiations between AOT and King Power can take place under earlier resolutions of the AOT board to open new bidding to select two or three private firms to operate duty-free shops and King Power can take part in the bidding. For commercial spaces, tenants have to ink direct contracts with AOT.

"The board always offered a chance for King Power to negotiate to seek a solution. It is impossible that the boards will ink a new contract with King Power without any bidding and King Power has never sincerely shown collaboration," said Jermsak.

For the "variation order" of 1,200 items in Suvarnabhumi (necessary to revamp the former King Power areas), he said that construction firms estimate it would cost around Bt7 billion. The "variation order" is the construction necessary to amend or add to the current structure of Suvarnabhumi without bidding.   

AOT's board yesterday assigned Passakorn Suwankanit, the company's senior executive vice president, to have authority to evaluate prices and approve payments to parts of the variation order without a board resolution.

General Saprang Kalyanamitra, AOT's chairman, admitted that problem solving at Suvarnabhumi has been slow because a number of directors have a lot of tasks. They are trying to be prudent in making decisions to avoid repeating past mistakes. In addition there is a great deal of bureaucracy involved in the budget disbursement procedures.

Chulchit Bunyaketu, King Power Group deputy chairman, said that the company is willing to negotiate with AOT in a bid to settle the dispute after Saprang has shown enthusiasm for the talks.

"It is necessary that we know what topics will be included in the negotiations first and when we know the issues from AOT's board, we can discuss with our legal division ahead of the negotiations," he said.

Meanwhile, there has been no resolution about a revamp of AOT's board as reported in local newspapers.

According to the SET's data, the AOT board comprises 19 directors.


Source: The Nation by Watcharapong Thongrung
Friday June 08, 2007