News Column

Lawsuit against Noble 'aims to protect investors'

August 8, 2014

By Darana Chudasri, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Aug. 08--The dispute between SET-listed property developer Noble Development Plc and a group of shareholders has intensified after ABN Amro Nominee Singapore Ltd came out to defend itself.

Suwat Prugsatien, a legal adviser to ABN Amro, said a lawsuit against Noble's management was intended to protect the rights of investors who felt they had been unfairly treated.

On Wednesday, Noble chief executive Kitti Thanakitamnuay challenged the person behind the revolt to come out of the shadows and declare their real intentions.

He claimed the investors' action was suspicious and violated the SET's rule on information disclosure.

"If Mr Kitti comes out to apologise, we are ready to forgive him," said Mr Suwat, a partner at Suwat Somkid Law Office.

Mr Kitti has insisted Noble's plan to raise registered capital through a private placement will go ahead.

The dispute began in April after Noble sought approval at its annual general meeting for an increase of capital to 1.97 billion baht from 1.37 billion by issuing 200 million shares to investors at three baht par each.

However, those investors who had invested in Noble through ABN Amro filed a lawsuit claiming Noble's management had accelerated the meeting process without informing shareholders.

Mr Suwat said the meeting clearly did not proceed legally as the registered capital increase was secretly proposed as a special agenda without prior notice to shareholders, which was an unusual practice.

Noble also quickly proceeded to legally verify the meeting's resolution shortly after the meeting finished.

ABN Amro filed a case at the Civil Court requesting compensation from Noble's management of 30 million baht.

Mr Suwat, who holds 1,000 Noble shares, personally filed a case against Mr Kitti to the Criminal Court for allegedly filing a forged document and failing to report an important agenda to shareholders. He also filed a case against Noble's directors alleging a false practice that caused damage to shareholders.

Mr Suwat said Noble should have no problem in raising funds despite its 3:1 debt-to-equity ratio since it had cash in hand of as much as 3 billion baht, with accrued profit before dividend payments as high as billions of baht.

Mr Suwat denied Mr Kitti's accusation that a company called Esteemed Networks Group was behind the case.

Mr Kitti on Wednesday said Esteemed Networks had accumulated Noble's shares through ABN Amro to get a holding of 23.64% in only six months. The company filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

NOBLE shares closed yesterday on the SET at 10.50 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 2.51 million baht.

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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