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Thai billionaire Sarath plans US$5.4 bil buyout of Singtel subsidiary Intouch

Bloomberg4/19/2021 01:33 PM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Thai billionaire Sarath plans US$5.4 bil buyout of Singtel subsidiary Intouch
Singtel currently holds 21% in Intouch.
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Gulf Energy Development, Thailand’s biggest power producer by market value, offered to acquire Intouch Holdings that control’s the nation’s largest mobile phone operator for as much as THB169 billion (US$5.4 billion or $7.2 billion). Intouch shares surged the most in more than a year.

The Bangkok-based company, controlled by billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi, offered to buy 2.6 billion shares, or about 81% of Intouch, that it doesn’t already own at THB65 ($2.77) each, it said in an exchange filing. The offer price is 11% higher than Intouch’s close on Friday. While Intouch shares jumped as much as 9% on Monday, the most since March 2020, Gulf Energy tumbled as much as 5.3% to its lowest level since November.

Gulf Energy will also tender for 100% of Advanced Info Service, Thailand’s biggest mobile phone company controlled by Intouch, at THB122.86 each. The Advanced Info offering will be subject to Gulf Energy securing at least 50% of Intouch, it said.

Sarath, 56, Thailand’s second-richest person, has expanded his 10-year-old energy company into deep-sea port, tollway and telecommunication businesses as well as power projects in Vietnam, Oman and Germany. Acquisitions of Intouch and Advanced Info will generate long-term benefits from their potential and cash flows as Thailand’s leading telecommunication companies, Gulf Energy said.

Gulf Energy’s proposed acquisition of Intouch would be Thailand’s third-biggest buyout deal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) is the biggest shareholder of Intouch after acquiring 21% stake from Temasek Holdings in 2016, while Singtel also owns about 23% of Advanced Info, according to stock exchange data.

Singtel views its stakes in Intouch and Advanced Info as strategic investments and the company believes in the long term outlook of the business, it said in an exchange filing. The company is reviewing its strategic options to ensure that shareholders of Intouch and Advanced Info get full benefit of the intrinsic value of the businesses, Singtel said.

Loans, Cash

Sarath, Gulf Energy’s chief executive officer, has a net worth of about US$9 billion, most of which comes from his and his family’s stake in the power producer, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Gulf Energy will finance the acquisitions of Intouch and Advanced Info from cash flow and bank loans, according to the company’s statement. Shareholders will hold a meeting on June 25 to consider the proposed acquisitions.

Most of Intouch’s earnings come from Advanced Info and Thaicom Pcl, the nation’s biggest satellite operator. It also invests in technology startups. Gulf Energy will request the regulator to waive a mandatory requirement to make tender offer for Thaicom, it said.

Thaicom shares surged as much as 9.2%, while Advanced Info fell 0.6% as of 10.41am in Bangkok.

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