Thai PM wants Thaicom back

Nicole McCormick
16 Jun 2010

Citing national security concerns, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says the government is in talks to buy Temasek Holdings’ stake in satellite firm Thaicom.

Abhisit told the Nationnewspaper that Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij was leading the negotiations with Singapore government investment firm to buy back the 41.1% stake.

“I think it will be useful if we can get it back, but we have to look at the cost and reasonable price levels,” he said.

Abhisit said the government was keen to recover full ownership of the satellite business and its three orbital slots.

Temasek $1.8 billion purchase of the stake from the family of then-PM Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006 sparked events which led to Shinawatra’s fall from power and instability in the past four years, culminating in last month’s bloody suppression of the red shirt protests.

During the protests, which clogged Bangkok streets for six weeks, Temasek agreed to block anti-government channel People Channel (PTV), from broadcasting off a Thaicom satellite Bangkok Post reported.

In response to the PTV’s closure, thousands of protestors temporarily seized control of Thaicom’s ground station.

Investment bank Credit Suisse believes a Thaicom sale is possible.

“We believe that the government has been under pressure to take some action against Thaicom following Thaksin Shinawatra’s asset seizure case [in February],” the bank said.

“This deal would allow the government to appear as if it has already done something with Thaicom.”

Investors rushed to buy Thaicom shares in the hope the government would pay a premium price for Temasek’s interest, with the stock closing 29% higher on Monday.

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