The organizer of Miss Universe and the licenced production of CNBC business and investment news in Thailand is being alleged for what could have been fraudulent after several suspicious developments within the company.
A Thai listed content producer and distributor JKN Global Group Public Company Limited (SET: JKN) under the helm of CEO Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip made several world class acquisitions in recent years. This includes an investment to acquire Miss Universe Organization and also a license to produce financial news under the name of world’s leading business news channel CNBC.
Since the year of listing in the Thai stock exchange in 2017, JKN was already a partner of CNBC to produce contents under the latter’s trademark. JKN continued to strengthen its content throughout the years by signing an agreement with CNBC (Asia) to acquire the rights to produce its own business news under the CNBC trademark as well as using the renown program’s title “Squawk Box”.
However, the event has turned as the company which produces business and investment news is now facing hefty debts and possibly a fraud allegation.
The downturn began with the announcement of JKN in late August to notify the market of its failure to meet obligation on a soon-to-be-matured debenture series JKN239A at the amount of 600 million baht, which triggered a cross default to other series as well.
Not long after, there was a big-lot transaction under the CEO Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip’s name, including the sale of over 92 million shares of JKN. The CEO defended himself that it was a forced sale from his margin account after JKN price dropped by 50% (from THB 2.5 to THB 1.25) within a week after the news of JKN bond delinquency.
JKN later settled with JKN239A debenture holders to extend the maturity date by offering higher interest rates and also set a date to meet with holders of other series worth about 2,000 million baht in early December 2023.
Surprisingly, JKN announced last week that it had filed a petition to the Central Bankruptcy Court for a business rehabilitation, which later was accepted by the court. This gives JKN an automatic stay for all of its debt, including debentures. The meeting with remaining debenture holders is automatically cancelled.
A lightning-fast decision making by the Boards raised suspicion in the market over the transparency of the board meeting that came to this resolution, especially without the creditors knowing of the decision beforehand. The submission of resignation letters from five directors and subcommittees just a few days later raised the likelihood of earlier suspicion being true.
To make the situation even worse, the financial auditor also declined to express conclusions on financial statements of JKN for the operation ending September 30, 2023. This has resulted in the Thai Stock Exchange suspending JKN securities from the trading session.
The status of JKN that once walked in a world-class level has been turned upside down in a flash, leaving it with a pile of debt that it is now seeking sympathy from creditors. However, the lifestyle of its CEO tells creditors otherwise as he is still living a luxurious life, which can be widely seen through the news or social media platform.
Thus, victims or creditors affected by JKN’s cunning move for rehabilitation is filing a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC), requesting a special audit on JKN’s financial status as well as raising questions on JKN’s past investments that were put under intangible assets in the balance sheet.
Confidence in the Thai capital market has yet to recover from the scandal of Stark Corporation Pcl. (SET: STARK) and now a company that claims to produce world-class business and investment news is under the radar of fraud as well. This could be the low time of the Thai stock market.