Thai power firm in $5.4 billion offer for Singapore telecom firm

Thai power producer Gulf Energy Development made a $5.4 billion offer last week to buy Singapore’s Intouch Holdings, which operates the Kingdom’s largest mobile phone network. The offer reflects the growing wealth and ambition of Thai corporations.

“We are entering the new business with great care and a good financial plan. This will not affect our power generation business,” said Smith Banomyong, Gulf’s Chief for Asset Management and Investment. He added that he expects the acquisition to be completed by July.

Should the deal be consummated, it would be the second-largest international acquisition by a Thai company after Charoen Pokphand’s purchase of Tesco’s Thailand operations last year.

Reports from Singapore said that Singapore Telecommunications, or Singtel, which owned about one-fifth of Intouch shares, was still in a consideration process of selling its shares to Gulf. “Singtel views its stakes as strategic investments and we believe in the long-term outlook of the businesses,” the company said in a statement.

Intouch Holdings owns most of Advanced Information Service, or AIS, the mobile telecommunications company that operates the largest network in Thailand, which was founded back in the 1990s.

Intouch also owns Thaicom Corporation, which operates communications satellites. Gulf said, however, that Thaicom is not a part of the deal.