Thai hospital tycoon sticks to guns on vaccine claims



By Chayut Setboonsarng

BANGKOK, July 16 (Reuters) - Thailand’s Thonburi Healthcare Group Pcl (THG) THG.BK doubled down on its outspoken chairman's claim to be buying Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Friday, helping its share price rise despite denials by both drugmakers.

Dr. Boon Vanasin's claim that his group, a more than $800 million private medicine empire, was close to signing a deal for 20 million Pfizer-BioNTech PFE.N 22UAy.DE coronavirus vaccines to import to Thailand was swiftly denied on Thursday by both companies, one day after a government agency filed a defamation suit against Boon, 82.

On Friday, THG stuck to its guns.

“THG has agreed to buy the vaccine and is currently in the process of filing documents with overseas dealers,” the company said in a statement.

Boon even told local media an agreement would be signed by Friday afternoon. By close of business, there was still no evidence of any deal.

THG shares closed 1.59% higher, having been up as much as 4% at one point.

It's still unclear whether Boon was insincere, the victim of a scam or - as he asserts - in the process of a brilliant fix to Thailand’s desperate vaccine needs.

Boon insists a deal was in the works through a government agency, which he declined to name.

"We are not doing it directly," he told Reuters.

Still, his comments on Thursday added about 1.5 billion baht ($45.80 million) to THG’s market capitalisation, bring it to 26.8 billion baht ($818.32 million), Refinitiv Eikon data shows.

Thailand so far has only vaccinated 5 percent of its population of more than 66 million. It has been administering China's Sinovac vaccine and the AstraZeneca’s shots but the government seeking other imported doses.

Boon, the Thai word for merit, has been on a quest for COVID-19 vaccines for months, arguing that the government should not monopolise supply and calling the vaccine policy “complacent and reckless.”

In February, he tried to import vaccines, but was unsuccessful and later lodged a protest. .

Months later state drugmaker, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), said it would import five million doses of Moderna vaccine MRNA.O for private hospitals .

Demand for mRNA vaccines in Thailand is growing. Pre-orders for Moderna vaccines through private hospitals were snapped up in a hurry.

Boon criticised the GPO for its process and on Wednesday the GPO slapped a defamation suit against the John Hopkins-trained physician. He said he welcomed the complaint because evidence and documents could be revealed in court.

Boon founded Thonburi hospital in 1976 and oversaw its expansion into a network of seven hospitals with 963 registered beds. He took the company public in 2017.

THG, which also operates hospitals in Cambodia and Myanmar, booked losses of 215 million baht in the first quarter this year, taking a hit from the pandemic and drop off in medical tourists.

The group is smaller than rivals like Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl BDMS.BK , and before the pandemic, its chairman began to carve out a niche. In 2017, he launched a $500 million 'medical city' for the elderly called Jin Wellbeing County, targeting Thailand’s ageing population and foreign retirees. ($1 = 32.7500 baht)
Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Disclaimer: Ang mga kabilang sa XM Group ay nagbibigay lang ng serbisyo sa pagpapatupad at pag-access sa aming Online Trading Facility, kung saan pinapahintulutan nito ang pagtingin at/o paggamit sa nilalaman na makikita sa website o sa pamamagitan nito, at walang layuning palitan o palawigin ito, at hindi din ito papalitan o papalawigin. Ang naturang pag-access at paggamit ay palaging alinsunod sa: (i) Mga Tuntunin at Kundisyon; (ii) Mga Babala sa Risk; at (iii) Kabuuang Disclaimer. Kaya naman ang naturang nilalaman ay ituturing na pangkalahatang impormasyon lamang. Mangyaring isaalang-alang na ang mga nilalaman ng aming Online Trading Facility ay hindi paglikom, o alok, para magsagawa ng anumang transaksyon sa mga pinansyal na market. Ang pag-trade sa alinmang pinansyal na market ay nagtataglay ng mataas na lebel ng risk sa iyong kapital.

Lahat ng materyales na nakalathala sa aming Online Trading Facility ay nakalaan para sa layuning edukasyonal/pang-impormasyon lamang at hindi naglalaman – at hindi dapat ituring bilang naglalaman – ng payo at rekomendasyon na pangpinansyal, tungkol sa buwis sa pag-i-invest, o pang-trade, o tala ng aming presyo sa pag-trade, o alok para sa, o paglikom ng, transaksyon sa alinmang pinansyal na instrument o hindi ginustong pinansyal na promosyon.

Sa anumang nilalaman na galing sa ikatlong partido, pati na ang mga nilalaman na inihanda ng XM, ang mga naturang opinyon, balita, pananaliksik, pag-analisa, presyo, ibang impormasyon o link sa ibang mga site na makikita sa website na ito ay ibibigay tulad ng nandoon, bilang pangkalahatang komentaryo sa market at hindi ito nagtataglay ng payo sa pag-i-invest. Kung ang alinmang nilalaman nito ay itinuring bilang pananaliksik sa pag-i-invest, kailangan mong isaalang-alang at tanggapin na hindi ito inilaan at inihanda alinsunod sa mga legal na pangangailangan na idinisenyo para maisulong ang pagsasarili ng pananaliksik sa pag-i-invest, at dahil dito ituturing ito na komunikasyon sa marketing sa ilalim ng mga kaugnay na batas at regulasyon. Mangyaring siguruhin na nabasa at naintindihan mo ang aming Notipikasyon sa Hindi Independyenteng Pananaliksik sa Pag-i-invest at Babala sa Risk na may kinalaman sa impormasyong nakalagay sa itaas, na maa-access dito.

Gumagamit kami ng cookies para mabigyan ka ng mahusay na karanasan sa aming website. Magbasa pa o palitan ang iyong cookie settings.

Babala sa Risk: Ang iyong kapital ay maaaring malugi. Ang mga produktong naka-leverage ay maaaring hindi para sa lahat. Tingnan ang aming Risk Disclosure.