Telenor seeks partners for Thai Telco

19 Dec 2006

(The Nation via NewsEdge) Telenor is seeking local partners for Thai Telco Holdings, which is a part owner of United Communication Industry (Ucom), a source close to Ucom shareholders said.

'The potential buyers can be local financial institutions or [other] serious investors,' the source said.

The Norwegian telecom giant hopes that a new local shareholders would make Ucom "safe" from the controversy surrounding foreign nominees.

Thai Telco is among 13 companies under investigation by a Commerce Ministry committee for possibly violating the foreign business law by acting as nominees for foreign investors.

The probe started with Kularb Kaew, Cedar Holdings, Aspen Holdings and Cypress Holdings, all of which were directly or indirectly involved in the takeover of Shin in January by Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

The government decided to expand the investigation because it came under public pressure to treat all companies with questionable ownership fairly.

In the year 2000, Telenor bought 24.8% of Ucom and 30% of DTAC through its subsidiary Telenor Asia..

The foreign business and telecom laws cap foreign shareholdings in telecom firms at 49%. A company defined as a nominee for foreign interests could face a fine or imprisonment.

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