Thai AirAsia mum on Shin stake report
AirAsia and Thai AirAsia yesterday declined to confirm or deny a news report that Thai AirAsia's management was negotiating to buy the stake in the airline held by Shin Corp.
"We do not comment and do not confirm anything about the deal," said Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, the major owner of Thai AirAsia with 49 per cent.
Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, also said he was not ready to discuss the issue.
The report came from the Financial Times website on Thursday.
It would be Shin Corp's first asset sale since it was taken over a year ago by Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings, the FT said.
The deal could signal Temasek's willingness to dispose of Shin Corp's marginal businesses to appease Thailand's military-led government and protect its investment in Advance Info Systems, Thailand's biggest mobile operator and Shin Corp's flagship asset, the FT said.
Temasek has faced a backlash in Thailand since it bought 49 per cent of Shin Corp from the family of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The tax-free sale caused political turmoil, which led to the military coup against Thaksin in September.
Shin Corp now holds 25 per cent of Thai AirAsia. Soon after Temasek completed the takeover, Shin Corp sold the other 25 per cent to Thai firm Asia Aviation to ensure that the low-cost airline kept its aviation licence.
Thai businessman Sittichai Veerathummnoon, with reported experience in the logistics industry, emerged as the major shareholder of Asia Aviation.
Thai AirAsia's management already holds 1 per cent in the low-cost carrier.
The value of the deal, which is expected to be concluded this month, has not been disclosed, but Temasek will get "a fair price" for its stake, the FT cited a person familiar with the talks as saying.