A 42.9% stake in Thailand’s largest mobile operator, Advanced Info Services (AIS), could be up for grabs, following moves by the family of Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai prime minister, to attract interest in its 49.6% holding in Thai conglomerate Shin Corp, AIS’ biggest shareholder. The Financial Times reports that the family is trying to raise up to USD1.7 billion by selling off shares in businesses ranging from telecoms to airlines, and has recently approached telcos including Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, China Mobile and Singapore Telecom (SingTel) to drum up interest in some or all of its Shin Corp stake. NTT DoCoMo and China Mobile both reportedly turned down the deal on the basis of price, leaving SingTel as the most likely buyer, as it already owns 20% of AIS and is looking to expand internationally. Thai analysts have said that the main motivation for the sale is to boost Shinawatra’s national popularity by removing conflicts of interest. In addition to its 42.9% AIS holding, Shin Corp has stakes in Asian satellite operator Shin Satellite, television broadcaster iTV, budget airline Thai Air Asia and finance house Capital OK.
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