Thai energy firm Gulf Energy Development has lodged a bid to take over Intouch Holdings, which holds a 40.45% stake mobile market leader AIS.
Gulf Energy, which is controlled by billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi, already holds an 18.9% stake in Intouch, and has bid 169 billion baht (US$5.4 billion) to take control of the unit. Approval is required from both regulators and Gulf Energy Development’s shareholders, but if the deal goes through it would grant the energy firm access to a far wider range of revenue streams.
Intouch also holds a 41.13% stake in Thai satellite operator Thaicom; however, Gulf Energy is reportedly only interested in acquiring Intouch if it does not also have to acquire Thaicom’s remaining shares. Spacenews reports that Gulf Energy has asked Thailand’s securities regulator to waive the requirement for it to make an offer for the shares.
Singapore’s Singtel is Intouch’s largest shareholder, holding 21% of the firm along with 23% of AIS. In a stock exchange announcement, Singtel noted that it views both units as strategic investments and is reviewing its options for them.
Fitch Ratings noted that Gulf Energy has not disclosed how it intends to fund its bid, despite offering to buy the Intouch shares that it does not already own for 65 baht per share – 11% higher than they closed on 16th April.
If it is able to acquire at least 50% of Intouch via this tender offer, the energy firm has proposed a full buyout of AIS shareholders, offering 122.86 baht per share. Fitch Ratings noted that it would almost certainly place AIS on its watchlist if the buyout went through.