Bloomberg News

Temasek Says Thai Finance Minister's Comment on Shin `Positive'

April 01, 2007

Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore's state-owned investment company, said a comment by Thai Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn that Thailand shouldn't seize the assets of Shin Corp. is a ``very positive'' development.

A seizure of Shin Corp. would send the wrong message to foreign investors, Chalongphob told Dow Jones Newswires on March 30, adding that Temasek and Thailand must reach a compromise and the Singapore company must understand the feelings of Thais.

``We welcome the assurance of the Finance Minister Chalongphob,'' Goh Yong Siang, Temasek's country head for Thailand, said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. ``We would like to assure the minister that we respect the feelings of the Thai people and their government.''

Thailand's army chief Sondhi Boonyarataklin said on Feb. 16 that he wanted the nation to take back assets acquired by Temasek last year. The purchase of Shin Corp. gave Temasek control of Thailand's biggest mobile-phone company, the country's only satellite operator, and ITV Pcl (ITV), which was the last independent television network in the kingdom.

Chalongphob didn't say whether an ongoing police probe into the sale could lead to a seizure of Shin Corp. Thai police are investigating whether the Temasek-led group of investors breached foreign ownership laws when they bought the company.

The Justice Ministry said on March 23 the police have completed 60 percent of their investigation into the shareholders of investment company Kularb Kaew Co., a Shin Corp. investor partly-owned by Temasek.

``The legal investigation aside, we should not take Shin back or seize its assets,'' Chalongphob said last week, according to Dow Jones Newswire.

The family of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sold its entire 49.6 percent stake in Shin Corp. for $1.9 billion to investors led by Temasek. The transaction led to public demonstrations, Thaksin's ouster in a Sept. 19 coup, and a diplomatic spat between Thailand and Singapore.

Last month, Thailand's military-installed government revoked ITV's television concession and took control of its operation after the company failed to pay 100 billion baht ($3 billion) in penalties. ITV's seizure put all six free-to-air Thai TV networks in the government's hands.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tony Jordan at tjordan3@bloomberg.net; Teo Chian Wei at cwteo@bloomberg.net


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