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This Thai Billionaire Just Saw Half of His Fortune Wiped Out

Energy Absolute Pcl’s Chief Executive Officer Somphote Ahunai has seen almost half of his fortune erased after shares of the renewable energy company he founded turned into the industry’s worst performer the past month.
Somphote, whose family owns about 40 percent of the Bangkok-based company, saw his fortune slump to as low as $1.6 billion as the bio-fuel and solar-power producer slid 46 percent in a month, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. That was the biggest drop among the 456 energy companies with market values exceeding $1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Somphote wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, according to an assistant. Omsin Siri, the company’s vice president for investor relations, said that some investors may be concerned about the possibility that Thailand’s government won’t increase electricity purchases from renewable energy from current levels.

"Energy Absolute faces a major headwind with a possible delay in the government’s new renewable energy bidding,” said Jitra Amornthum, head of research at Finansia Syrus Securities Pcl. “The new battery plant will take time to contribute to earnings and will need substantial financing,” she said by phone, referring to a plan to develop an energy-storage plant.
Thailand’s government doesn’t plan to increase electricity generation purchases from renewable sources through 2023 as it has enough reserve power, the Bangkok Post reported March 28, citing Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan.
The recent share decline more than wiped out a rally that started with a one-day surge of 19.3 percent on Jan. 11 after Thanachart Securities Co. analysts more than doubledtheir share-price target. The brokerage said in a report at the time that Energy Absolute was positioned as Southeast Asia’s energy storage and renewable energy industry leader.
Energy Absolute plunged 13 percent to 34 baht Tuesday, down from 69 baht as recently as Feb. 12. It reached a record 69.5 baht on Jan. 22. The stock was unchanged as of 10:23 a.m. Wednesday.