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Singapore Government `Not Involved' in Shin Deal

The Singapore government, which owns $63 billion investment company Temasek Holdings Pte., said it was not involved in Temasek's decision to buy Thailand's Shin Corp., a deal that has triggered street protests against the city state and deepened a political crisis in Thailand.

``The Shin Corp.-Temasek deal is a private sector deal, done purely on a commercial basis. It is not a government-to- government deal,'' the Singapore government said in a letter handed to representatives of about 1,000 protesters outside its embassy in Bangkok today. ``The Singapore Government does not interfere in the business and operations of Temasek Holdings,''

Temasek's purchase of 49.6 percent of Shin Corp. from the family of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has created a crisis for the premier, who has dissolved parliament and called snap elections. Critics of the deal were angered by the tax-free $1.9 billion Thaksin's family got from the sale, and by the prospect of a foreign government takeover of a Thai company.

Chief Executive Ho Ching has been expanding Temasek's holdings across Asia, investing in banks, pharmaceutical companies, telephone companies and airlines. Ho is married to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is also finance minister.

``Temasek Holdings' board and management make their own investment decisions,'' the letter said. ``The Singapore Government is not involved. Singapore companies doing businesses in Thailand are required to observe the laws of Thailand.''

Shin Stake

Temasek, which has a portfolio of S$103 billion ($63 billion) of investments and is wholly-owned by Singapore's finance ministry, agreed to buy a 49.6 percent stake in Shin Corp. from the family of the Thai Prime Minister in January. It is also offering to buy the rest of the company in a tender offer that will expire today.

Temasek spokeswoman Eva Ho declined immediate comment on the letter by the Singapore embassy or the situation in Bangkok.

Anti-Thaksin lobbyists submitted a letter to the embassy earlier this week.

To contact the reporters on this story: Beth Jinks in Bangkok at bjinks1@bloomberg.net; Laurent Malespine in Bangkok at lmalespine1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bruce Grant at bruceg@bloomberg.net.

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