Debt restructuring needed to save Bangkok's Skytrain

Posted on August 5, 2002

Bangkok's Skytrain can not continue operations unless it creditors agree to a debt restructuring plan that includes writing off massive accrued interest, reported the Associated Press. The private company that operates the two-line system, Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS), owes about $854 million to its Thai and international creditors, including $580 million in U.S. dollar-denominated loans, reported the AP. The BTS hopes to have a debt restructuring plan in place by the end of the year. The plan would include writing off $112 million in accrued interest and 25-year repayment on the principal at an interest lower than the minimum lending rate. BTS also wants at least 35% of the debt to be converted into equity and conversion of the U.S. dollar loan into baht, said the AP. The Skytrain opened in December 1999 in the hopes that it would help clear up commuting gridlock. The service never took off as expected, partially due to expensive tickets and limited reach. The company, the only private commuter system in Asia, needs 650,000 passengers a day to make a profit. Ridership is currently 278,000, up from about 160,000 in December 2000.

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