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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 11:57 GMT
Protests 'halt' Thai beer listing
Protesting Buddhist monks
Campaigners say the protests will continue
An attempt by Thailand's largest brewer to list on the stock market has been put on hold after protests by Buddhist monks worried by growing alcohol sales.

The flotation by Thai Beverages - maker of top-selling Chang beer - had been expected to be approved on Wednesday.

Officials said a formal decision had been delayed indefinitely so it could be made "free of outside pressure".

Anti-alcohol campaigners held another demonstration outside Bangkok's stock exchange on Wednesday.

Thai Beverages had hoped to raise more than $1bn (530m) in the April flotation, which would have been the largest by value in Thailand's history and the first by a brewer.

Protests continue

The company, with more than 40 drink brands, is part of the empire of Thailand's wealthiest man Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.

Chang beer was launched in 1995 and has overtaken rival Singha, with about 68% of market share.

Singha's maker Boon Rawd was said to be monitoring market reaction to the listing as it mulls a stock market flotation of its own.

The protesters have the backing of Chamlong Srimuang, a long-time mentor to Thailand's prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

They say alcohol is against Buddhism, Islam and traditional Thai culture and are vowing to continue their fight until the proposed listing is rejected.

"Today is a day of relief for the Thai people concerned over an ill society already damaged by excessive alcohol consumption," the Anti-Alcohol network said in a statement.

Thai Beverages has not yet responded to the stock exchange announcement.

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