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BKK POST: January 24, 1998: THAI-BU

January 24, 1998

              Thaksin tries to
              clinch satellite deal
              in Burma

              Lease of Thaicom transponder urged

              Achara Ashayagachat

              Former deputy premier Thaksin Shinawatra is in Rangoon trying
              to clinch a satellite leasing deal with Burmese leaders, sources in
              the telecom industry said.

              According to a Burmese television report monitored by AFP, the
              communications tycoon held talks in Rangoon on Thursday with
              First Secretary Khin Nyunt of the ruling State Peace and
              Development Council. Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw and other
              senior Burmese officials attended the meeting at the Defence

              Industry sources in Bangkok said Mr Thaksin was trying to
              finalise a deal offering Burma the lease of a Thaicom satellite
              transponder. Burma's current lease of the transponder of Hong
              Kong's AsiaSat is due to expire in March.

              Mr Thaksin decided to engage in the talks himself because
              AsiaSat had made what the sources described as "a good offer"
              to the Burmese leadership for a new lease.

              According to the sources, the success of Mr Thaksin's mission
              depended on how much he was willing to help Burma shoulder
              the additional cost of replacing certain equipment in order to
              change to the Thaicom system.

              A billionaire who left Shinawatra Group in 1994 to become
              foreign minister in the first Chuan Leekpai government, Mr
              Thaksin was labelled the richest minister in the former
              governments of Banharn Silpa-archa and Chavalit
              Yongchaiyudh, which he served as deputy prime minister.

              The Shinawatra Group's three satellites have broad coverage in
              Asia including Laos, Burma, Malaysia and Vietnam.

              The group has been trying hard to maintain local customers,
              mainly television operators, and to expand to neighbouring
              markets because its monopoly in the satellite business is due to
              run out after the year 2000.

              The group, however, has failed to penetrate emerging markets,
              with basic telecom projects in Laos, Cambodia and Burma

              A source said: "Shinawatra's new approach shifting from
              competing for a telecom concession to satellite business may be
              appropriate as it will pave the way for other business
              opportunities, including programme provider for the Burmese TV
              operator, which is owned by the ruling military junta." 


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Last Modified: Sat, Jan 24, 1998