The corporate takeover that triggered a coup

SINGAPORE, Sept 20, 2006 (AFP) – The overthrow of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra marked the culmination of a crisis partly triggered by the controversial Singaporean takeover of a major conglomerate from his family. Singapore’s state-linked investment firm Temasek Holdings bought 49 percent of the Thaksin family-controlled telecom giant Shin Corp. in January for nearly 1.9 billion US dollars as part of Temasek’s aggressive global expansion.

Temasek and Singapore officials were stunned when the takeover exploded into a national scandal in Thailand after it was disclosed that the family paid no taxes on its windfall gains from the deal.

At the height of the turmoil, Thai protestors marched on Singapore’s embassy in Bangkok and burned posters of its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his businesswoman wife Ho Ching, who runs Temasek.

Temasek controls some of Asia’s best-known companies, including Singapore Airlines, and is one of two vehicles used by Singapore to invest its massive savings and assets globally.

Spokesmen for Temasek, whose international corporate portfolio is now worth over 80 billion US dollars, could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday on the implications of the Thai crisis.