Billionaire Sarath offers B169bn buyout for InTouch

Billionaire Sarath offers B169bn buyout for InTouch

Gulf Energy Development chief executive officer Sarath Ratanavadi plans a buyout of Intuoch Holdings Plc, which controls AIS. (Photo: Gulf Energy Development)
Gulf Energy Development chief executive officer Sarath Ratanavadi plans a buyout of Intuoch Holdings Plc, which controls AIS. (Photo: Gulf Energy Development)

Gulf Energy Development Plc, Thailand’s biggest power producer by market value, has made a buyout bid for InTouch Holdings Plc, which controls the nation’s largest mobile phone operator, offering as much as 169 billion baht.

The Bangkok-based company, controlled by billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi, offered to buy 2.6 billion shares, or about 81% of InTouch, that it does not currently own at 65 baht each, it said in an exchange filing. The offer price is 11% higher than InTouch’s close on Friday.

Gulf will also tender for 100% of Advanced Info Service Plc, Thailand’s biggest mobile phone company controlled by InTouch, at 122.86 baht each. AIS’s offering will be subject to Gulf securing at least 50% stake in InTouch, it said.

Mr Sarath, 56, Thailand’s second-richest person, has expanded his 10-year-old energy company into deep-sea port, tollway and telecommunication as well as power projects in Vietnam, Oman and Germany. Acquisitions of InTouch and AIS will create long-term benefit as both companies have strong potentials and cash flows as Thailand’s leading telecommunication companies, Gulf said.

Gulf’s proposed acquisition of InTouch would be Thailand’s third-biggest buyout deal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd is the biggest shareholder of InTouch after acquiring 21% stake from Temasek Holdings Pte in 2016. SingTel also owned about 23% stake in AIS.

Loans, cash

Mr Sarath, Gulf’s chief executive officer, has a net worth of $9.1 billion (284 billion baht), most of which comes from his and his family’s stake in the power producer, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Gulf will finance the acquisitions of InTouch and AIS by its own cash flows and bank loans, according to the company’s statement. The company’s shareholders will hold a meeting on June 25 to consider the proposed acquisitions.

InTouch’s biggest earnings come from AIS and Thaicom Plc, the nation’s biggest satellite operator. It also invests in technology startups. Gulf will request the regulator to waive a mandatory requirement to make tender offer for Thaicom, it said.

InTouch shares jumped 3.75 baht (6.41%) to 62.25 on the news, but Gulf dropped 1 baht (3.05%) to 31.75 baht as of 11am on Monday. AIS dropped 50 satang (0.030%) to 167.50, while Thaicom added 60 satang (6.49%) to 9.85 baht.

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