Cedar Holdings, a unit of Singapore's state investment firm Temasek Holdings, looks set to sell its entire shareholding in InTouch Plc (INTUCH) next year, says the head of Thailand's largest telecommunications conglomerate.
The prediction is based on speculation that InTouch's shares are rising to satisfactory profit levels, said Somprasong Boonyachai, a director and executive committee chairman at InTouch.
Cedar has sold 330 million InTouch shares or 10.3% of the total, InTouch said in a statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) yesterday.
About 20% of the shares were sold to Thai investors and the rest to Thai NVDR Co.
Cedar now has 428 million shares in InTouch for a 13.3% stake.
"I believe Cedar's share sale decision was based on its basic investment strategies and had nothing to do with InTouch's management," said Mr Somprasong.
He also said the share sale by Cedar has increased the free float of InTouch shares to 40% of paid-up capital, higher than the minimum free float of 15% set by the SET.
The Cedar move should be good news for InTouch, as it could reflect a higher value for the shares, he said.
Mr Somprasong said Cedar has gradually sold many InTouch shares over the years thanks to rising demand and sound telecom share value.
In response to any potential queries from minority shareholders, the public or other stakeholders, InTouch has already asked Aspen Holdings Ltd, another major stakeholder, whether it intends to sell its shares, he said.
But Aspen said it has no immediate plans to sell its shares and that it remains confident in the company's business and management.
Cedar last January sold 200 million InTouch shares in a deal that could raise as much as US$261 million.
The 6.2% stake was sold at 40.10 to 41.60 baht a share.
Cedar had a 44.2% stake in Intouch early last year, and the sale increased InTouch's free float to 20.4% at that time.
An industry analyst said the share sale by the Singaporean telecom units are aimed at reducing the risk of legal disputes over allegations of foreign dominance and avoiding breaches of the Foreign Business Act.
Unlike Total Access Communication (DTAC), which is majority-owned by Norwegian Telenor and has several foreigners in high-ranking management positions, InTouch has very few foreign representatives from Temasek.
Last year, DTAC founder Boonchai Bencharongkul and his family raised their stakes in DTAC ahead of the third-generation licence auction on the 2100-megahertz spectrum.
Shares of INTUCH closed yesterday on the SET at 65.25 baht, down 1.75 baht, in trade worth 27.1 billion baht.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter