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Malaysia's AirAsia to keep Thai stake at 49%

13-Feb-2006

KUALA LUMPUR (XFNews) - Malaysia-based budget airline AirAsia said will not dilute its 49 pct stake in its Thai joint venture, Thai AirAsia, adding that any plan for restructuring the unit will only involve its Thai partner Shin Corp.

"AirAsia will remain a 49 pct shareholder in Thai AirAsia," company executive director Kamarudin Meranun was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

"We have come to an agreement that our shareholdings will not be diluted and our rights in the existing agreement will remain in force," he said.

"As far as the restructuring is concerned, what needs to be done will be done at the Shin Corp level," he added.

Thai AirAsia said on Tuesday it would find new partners in order to comply with foreign ownership rules after the sale of its stakeholder Shin Corp to a group led by Singapore's Temasek.

Thai AirAsia is 50 pct held by telecommunications group Shin Corp, founded by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. His family's 73.30 bln baht sale of the business to the Temasek-led group has caused AirAsia to fall foul of rules which state Thai-registered airlines must be at least 51 pct Thai-owned.

Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal said he had asked the Department of Aviation to review the foreign shareholder structure of Thai AirAsia after Temasek became the largest shareholder in Shin Corp.

He warned that Thai AirAsia could lose its licence if it has more foreign ownership than Thai ownership, or breaches the 51% level.

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