AFP (14 Jun 07)
15 Jun 07
Shin Corp, the Thai telecommunications giant founded by ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, said yesterday it has divested itself of its entire stake in budget airline Thai AirAsia to focus on its core telecoms business.
Shin Corp’s 50 per cent stake in the nation’s top low-cost carrier sparked public controversy last year after Singapore’s Temasek Holdings bought the telco.
Critics argued that a foreign firm should not control a domestic airline, and that the deal violated Thailand’s foreign ownership laws.
To comply with the ownership law, Shin Corp last year set up a company called Asia Aviation to control its shares.
Thai businessman Sittichai Veerathummnoon controlled 51 per cent of Asia Aviation, with Shin Corp holding 49 per cent.
Shin Corp has now sold those remaining shares to a group of six of the airline’s managers, led by Thai AirAsia chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld, the company said in a filing to the Thai stock exchange.
The group of managers paid 472 million baht (S$21 million) for 20 million shares, at a price of 23.50 baht per share, the statement said.
‘The divestiture of Thai AirAsia’s stake is part of Shin Corp’s strategy to focus on the group’s core telecoms and media businesses,’ a Shin Corp spokesman said. ‘Budget carrier Thai AirAsia is considered a non-core activity.’