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Thailand: M&A heats up

Thailand has seen a spate of high-profile acquisitions in the past year. A combination of regulatory and competitive pressures means the country’s smaller banks could be the next M&A target.

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On January 23, a Temasek-led consortium acquired a 49.6% stake in SHIN Corp for approximately $1.8 billion. The consortium has since tendered for the outstanding minority shares, although the level of acceptance had not been disclosed at the time of writing. However, it is highly likely that Temasek will have effective control of Thailand’s largest telecommunications and media conglomerate.

Although this is the most high-profile corporate acquisition to date, it is far from being the first. In 2005 there were more than 100 mergers or acquisitions involving either a Thai publicly listed company or an overseas bidder. Transactions featured general manufacturers, materials companies, financial service providers, property developers, entertainment companies, telecoms, hotels and hospitals. The most high-profile deals included Telenor of Norway bidding for a controlling stake in UCOM Plc, True Corp Plc buying UBC Plc, and Tata Steel of India acquiring Millennium Steel Plc.

Financial services the next target

A sector where mergers and acquisitions are likely to accelerate is financial services. This is consistent with global trends but also results from factors specific to Thailand, principally tightening liquidity, regulatory changes and domestic (and increasingly, foreign) competition.

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