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Business deals

Thai telecom AIS calls out Gulf Energy's bid as too low

Carrier tells shareholders to reject bid as power seller seeks wireless foothold

Thai telecom AIS values itself around double the per-share price offered by Gulf Energy's bid. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

BANGKOK -- Thailand's leading wireless carrier Advanced Info Service urged shareholders on Monday to reject a tender offer by compatriot power provider Gulf Energy Development, citing the "inappropriate price" of the bid.

The "tender offer price is lower than the fair value of the company," the carrier known as AIS said in a filing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Gulf Energy is offering 120.93 baht per share, while AIS calculates the appropriate value as between 214 and 234 baht per share.

In mid-April, Gulf Energy announced tender offers for AIS and Intouch Holdings, an investment group that owns about 40% of the telecom company. The power provider, which owns nearly 19% of Intouch, seeks to take over the target in whole. The offers went into effect at the end of June.

Gulf Energy's bid for a full entry into the telecom business could reach as much as 520 billion baht ($15.8 billion).

In contrast with AIS, Intouch assessed Gulf Energy's offer of 65 baht per share for the investment group as "appropriate" in its own filing Monday to the Thai exchange.

"Shareholders could consider accepting the tender offer," or they could consider "holding the company's common shares or accepting only parts of the offering," Intouch wrote.

Gulf Energy, founded in 2011, has become one of Thailand's largest independent power providers. The company runs gas-fired and renewable energy projects, mainly in the Southeast Asian country. Last year, Gulf Energy earned a net profit of 4.2 billion baht on sales of 33.3 billion baht.

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