Matthew KichodhanChairman & CEO
World Leaders and especially all Thais in 2016 mourned the tragic and most sad passing of our beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13th, 2016, who reigned righteously for more than 7 Decades. The Board of Directors and the employees of Wave Group send our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family, and mourn the lost with all Thais.
Wave’s businesses faced a challenging year in the “Lifestyle & Entertainment” sectors and especially in Quarter 4. However, we reaffirm our Long Term commitment to realize our Vision to become a leading "Lifestyle and Entertainment" Company to provide our consumers with unique quality products, services, programs and entertainment to further enrich their lives. We have narrowed our interests in the Lifestyle sector to Food, and Education where we see the opportunity to tap into these growing sectors amongst teens and young adults as Thailand's middle class develops and the opportunities that AEC presents while growing our Entertainment business through the full year impact in 2016 of our 50% acquisition of Index Creative Village Public Co. (“Index”) in July 2015. We believe that Wave's transformation into a “Lifestyle & Entertainment” Company offers a unique combination that will enable Wave to leverage its Entertainment and Media business to support and grow its new Lifestyle businesses.
The Wall Street English (WSE) franchise in Thailand in the Education Sector, is Thailand’s leading premium provider of English education, and with Quantitative research completed in 2016 affirm our market share and Brand leadership with now 10 Retail Centres and 5 Corporate Centres. The newest center was opened in March at Central Westgate enabling WSE to capture a new market in the suburbs of Metropolitan Bangkok. With the onset of AEC and Thais being less proficient in English relative to other ASEAN countries, the opportunities for growth through the expansion of retail and corporate centres are immense.
Jeffer Restaurants Co. Ltd, enabled Wave to establish a scale food business through Jeffer's 80 restaurants nationwide. Jeffer opened 4 new restaurants as well as closed 3 nonperforming stores resulting in a net gain of 1 restaurant. Jeffer offers organic and regional growth opportunities for Wave to expand Jeffer's unique Value position in the Western Dine-In segment targeting teens and young adults and families as well as its infrastructure and network to leverage further new food concepts as we look to expand the Foods business. In 2016, Jeffer began rolling out the new Brand Corporate Identity with a refresh look and feel to be more consistent with the “Lifestyle” of our consumers.
Index Creative Village Public Co. Ltd (“Index”), a leading regional conglomerate group of Creative and Event organizers established over 25 years ago with a current footprint in the IndoChina countries, and now ranked 7th Agency in the World from Special Events Magazine, USA faced a tough year especially with the cancelation of many events in Q4, as the country mourned the lost of our beloved King. Index will give Wave the scale, creative, and production capabilities to the “Entertainment” business, for example, in 2016 successfully producing the Ms. Thailand Reality TV show and Beauty Pageant Event.
Our investment in Thai Solar Energy Public Company (TSE) continues to be a valuable asset since its IPO. In 2016, Wave sold 10% of our TSE holdings to reduce our Long Term Debt as we prepare to lighten our liability and create more breathing room to organically expand our existing businesses as well as be more flexible in examining new opportunities. Our D/E ratio dropped from 3.91 to 1.68, and our IBD/E ratio dropped from 2.49 to 1.04. Our holding of TSE post the sale stands at 10%. The market capital of TSE as of December 30th was Baht 11.07 Billion.
The Company continues to ensure emphasis on Good Corporate Governance improving once again its rating from " Very Good" to “Excellent” (score 87% to 90%) in the Corporate Governance Report of Thai Listed Companies in 2016 from the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD), supported by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, as well as from an "Excellent" (96%) to an “Excellent (deserve as an example)” (100%) rating from the Thai Investors Association in their assessment of our Annual General Meeting in 2015. We will strive to continue to improve/maintain our standing and rating in Good Corporate Governance in the upcoming year.
We look forward in the year ahead, to continue transforming Wave into a leading “Lifestyle and Entertainment” Company with further opportunities to expand organically and through further acquisitions to realize the opportunities and growth in Thailand and AEC Region in our 3 Business Units of Food, Education & Entertainment. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like thank our shareholders, investors, customers, strategic partners, government agencies, and our employees for their continual support and confidence in the Company.