In 2014, several factors were not conducive to the overall growth of the domestic economy as well as the business operations of commercial banks. As a result, Thanachart Group was not able to expand its business. As at the end of 2014, the total assets and loans decreased slightly compared with 2013 as a result of the decrease in hire purchase loans. This also resulted in an increase in the Group's burdens in terms of impairment loss of hire purchase loans which were much higher than exected. On the other hand, the performance of Thanachart Group remained, to some extent, satisfactory, although it was weaker when compared with 2013.
In 2015, it is anticipated that both the domestic and external factors will remain not conducive to the country's economy and financial sector which will likely grow modestly. As a result, TBANK will not place emphasis on high growth. As regards the loan portfolio, TBANK's policy still focuses on maintaining its leadership position in the automobile hire purchase sector for new cars, used cars, and cash your car loans. However, it will not able to register any further growth as its total hire purchase loans are now at a level that new lending could not offset the repayments of the existing hire purchase loans. As a result, TBANK has adopted a policy to promote all types of loans other than the hire purchase loans.
It is still Thanachart Group's policy to enhance the stability of TBANK further. This will be achieved by properly managing the various risks and dropping them to relatively very low levels. Among others, these are as follows:
With the implementation of the above plans, I am confident that Thanachart Group, particularly TBANK, will not only become stronger with enhanced competitiveness potential but will also be able to achieve satisfactory performance in 2015 and increasingly stronger performance in the long term.
During the period from the latter part of 2014 to January 2015, the prices of the Company's shares fell to the level below 31 baht per share. The Board of Directors was of the opinion that, if the share prices fell to a certain level, share repurchases would be beneficial to shareholders. As a result, it adopted a resolution to make use of the available liquidity to repurchase the Company shares, starting from 10 February 2015, provided that the total fund used in the repurchases did not exceed 1,400 million baht.
Please be informed that Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob who was elected as a new Director in April 2013 had to resign from the Board of Directors in December 2014, as he was appointed as a member of the Bank of Thailand's Board. While this is regrettable, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to him for having always carried out his work in an excellent manner. To fill the vacancy resulting from the resignation, the Board of Directors would like to propose that Mr. Vichit Yarnamorn be elected as a Director replacing Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob. The proposal was recommended by the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. Mr. Vichit Yarnamorn is a highly qualified professional in the field of information technology. His appointment will be advantageous to TBANK whose policy places emphasis on giving more digital banking services.
Please rest assured that the Board of Directors will carry out its duties in relation to the establishment of polices and the corporate governance in the most competent manner and with commitment to complying with the principles of good corporate governance as well as treating each group of stakeholders fairly. Importantly, it will properly promote and support activities in different areas related to corporate social responsibility.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to extend my thankfulness to all customers and shareholders for placing your trust in us and for giving continuous support to Thanachart Group. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the executives and staff members for always performing your duties most competently and with integrity.
(Mr. Banterng Tantivit)