Thai Company Uses Phuket ‘Sandbox’ to Clinch a $4.75 Billion Deal

Thailand’s bold move to throw open Phuket, its most famous tourist destination, to vaccinated foreign visitors is paying off in more ways than one.

PTT Global Chemical Pcl used the reopening to sign an agreement to acquire Allnex Holding GmbH, a European specialty-chemicals maker owned by private equity firm Advent International, for 4 billion euros ($4.75 billion). Top executives of Allnex and Advent flew into Phuket last weekend to sign the deal, the biggest overseas acquisition by a Thai company in almost a decade.

The so-called Phuket Sandbox experiment of waiving a mandatory two-week quarantine for inoculated visitors allowed the “in-person signing” required for a deal of its size, PTT Global’s Chief Executive Officer Kongkrapan Intarajang told reporters at an online briefing on Tuesday.

Thai Company Uses Phuket ‘Sandbox’ to Clinch a $4.75 Billion Deal

“One major reason that allowed us to complete this deal on time was the Phuket Sandbox,” Kongrapan said. “It would have been hard for us to fly to Europe with all the quarantine and vaccination requirements.”

Though Thailand is in the grip of a raging Covid outbreak worsened by the emergence of the delta variant, it is pushing ahead with plans to reopen popular tourist islands to foreign visitors to revive its tourism industry devastated by more than a year of global travel restrictions. Samui, Phangan and Tao islands in Surat Thani province are set to follow Phuket in welcoming fully inoculated visitors from July 15.

Phuket received almost 5,000 visitors in the first week and may draw about 100,000 people in the first three months, according to officials. PTT Global’s Kongrapan said Thai businesses should use Phuket and other unlocked destinations to strike more deals.

“We could fly executives from Advent and Allnex to Phuket for this contract signing and got to know everybody in person,” Kongrapan said. “This should be a good guideline for any future business and deals that need some meetings between Thai and overseas parties.”

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