A military coup is apparently underway in Thailand. Tanks have surrounded the main government building in Bangkok. Thai Prime Minister Thanksin Shinawatra is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, which is said to be changing its schedule to allow him to address the body tonight.
According to a Red Alert from Stratfor:
“The tanks moved in shortly after Thaksin issued a state of emergency and ordered army Commander in Chief Sondhi Boonyaratkalin to report to Deputy Prime Minister Pol. Gen. Chidchai Wannasathit. It is unclear whether this is an attempted coup, preventative military action or a countercoup.
Meanwhile, things are relatively calm in Bankgkok. No soldiers have been patrolling the streets, no curfew has been declared and the airport is open.”
Thanksin is a wealthy businessman who has championed free-markets, economic stimulus and welcomed foreign investment. He has been popular in Thailand but has recently come underfire for corruption after his family sold a $1.88 billion stake in Shin Corp, the conglomerate he founded in 1983, to the Thai government. It apparently didn’t make opposition members any happier when it was revealed that the entire transaction would be tax-free and was made when share prices were at an eleven-year high. Thanksin defends the sale by saying it was an effort to eliminate conflicts-of-interest stemming from his family’s business connections.
The US and Japan are major trading partners with Thailand. The US is the largest importer of Thai goods and Japan is the largest exporter into Thailand.
So which US companies or investment funds have the most to lose in a Thai coup? We’re gathering together what information we can. Send us any information you might have: tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com.
For now we’re trying to reach Quest Management’s Lance Depew and Doug Barnett, who run the only Thailand-specific foreign hedge fund—the $225-million Thai Focused Equity Fund.
Military Launches a Coup in Thailand [Associated Press]