Temasek’s Shin sale out on a limb

25 Aug 2009

Singaporean state-backed investment vehicle Temasek Holdings is looking to sell part of its stake in Thai conglomerate Shin Corp, owner of cellular market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS), but only when economic conditions allow it, reports the Bangkok Post quoting an executive. ‘Our major shareholder has a policy to dilute its stake, but timing will depend on the economic situation and market conditions,’ Tomyantee Kongpoolsilpa, a senior manager for investor relations at Shin, told reporters. Temasek, which is also the majority owner of Singapore’s SingTel, bought control of Shin from the family of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a controversial deal which was a major factor leading up to a military coup deposing him later that year. The USD3.8 billion takeover resulted in Shin’s free float dropping to under 4%, well below the 15% threshold required by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, whilst its new ownership structure involves 96.12% of shares being held by two Thai-registered companies, Cedar Holdings and Aspen Holdings. Aspen is owned directly by a Temasek subsidiary, while Cedar is 49% owned by Temasek. Foreign investors in Thailand including Temasek and second-placed cellco DTAC’s owner Telenor of Norway have been able to get round a 49% foreign ownership limit by holding majority shares through local nominee companies. Temasek has agreed to dilute its overall holding in Shin to 49%, but the plan was put on hold pending a probe into whether the takeover broke foreign ownership laws in the first place.