Thai telecoms firms to be exempt from new foreign ownership laws

11 Jan 2007

Thailand’s military government has announced that draft amendments to laws restricting foreign ownership of domestic companies will not apply to telecommunications firms, correcting a contradictory statement made a day before. The Finance Ministry said that telecoms companies would be included among so-called ‘List 3’ firms, which will be required to cut foreign shareholdings to a maximum of 49.99%, but will not have to reduce voting rights to the same threshold, as other companies on Lists 1 and 2 will. In December 2006 the government said it would impose a 50% limit on foreign investors’ shareholding and voting rights in sectors deemed vital to national security. Norway’s Telenor, the parent of Thai cellco DTAC, said it remained confident that its shareholding structure in the operator and its Thai holding company Ucom was in compliance with the revised laws. It also said that it had no plans for restructuring or divestments in Thailand, nor postponement of its planned listing of DTAC on the Thai stock market, which is scheduled for the first half of 2007. Under the current shareholding structure of DTAC, Telenor Asia holds 33%, with Ucom holding 43%. 47% of Ucom’s shares are held by Telenor Asia and 42% by Thai Telco Holdings (a 49%-owned subsidiary of Telenor).

Thailand, Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC)