Thai Shin says Temasek stake sale depends on market

August 25, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Pisit Changplayngam

A plan by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings to sell its stake in Thailand’s leading telecoms group, Shin Corp, will depend on market conditions, an official at the Thai firm said on Monday.

The plan is followed closely by investors as it is likely to increase the volume of Shin shares trading in the market. Some analysts see the stock as a good proxy for Thailand’s telecoms industry but say the low free float is a trading risk.

“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.

Shin was founded by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and control was sold to Temasek by his family in 2006.

Shin’s free float dropped to under 4 percent, below the 15 percent threshold required by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, following Temasek’s $3.8 billion takeover.

Under a complicated structure, Shin is 96.12 percent owned by two Thai-registered companies, Cedar Holdings and Aspen Holdings. Aspen is owned directly by a Temasek subsidiary, while Cedar is 49 percent owned by Temasek.

The Singapore state investment firm had planned to dilute its holding in Shin Corp to 49 percent, but the plan is on hold pending a probe into whether the takeover broke laws limiting foreign ownership of Thai firms to 49 percent.

Kim Eng Securities said in a note that the Shin shares looked interesting because of third-generation mobile phone licences to be issued to its 43 percent owned Advanced Info Service (AIS) and the progress of the IPSTAR satellite business run by its 41 percent owned Thaicom.

Shares in Shin, valued at $2.1 billion on the Thai bourse, ended 0.9 percent higher at 23.00 baht after touching a 12-month high of 23.30 baht earlier. The overall Thai stock market was 1.3 percent higher.

The current value of Shin shares is under half the price Temasek paid, 49.25 baht, in January 2006.

Shin groups more than 20 companies in the wireless, satellite, Internet and media sectors, with AIS, Thailand’s largest mobile phone operator, contributing more than 80 percent of its profit. ($1 = 34.00 Baht)