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Shin Corps Acquires Thai ISP

[January 26] Thailand's satellite telecommunications giant the Shin Corporations this week acquired a majority stake in Data Line Thai, an Internet service provider (ISP) based in Bangkok.

The acquisition adds a second ISP to the Shin Corps portfolio, which also includes CS Communications. Data Line Thai serves mainly corporate clients and a small base of individual users, according to AD Venture, a Shin Corps company set up to operate newly acquired companies.

AD Venture is one of two Shin Corps subsidiaries involved in the deal. Shin Corps established another subsidiary, AT Cyber, to buy out a 65 percent stake in Data Line Thai from a company called Datamat. The remaining shares of Data Line Thai are owned by the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), a government agency.

In Thailand's highly regulated telecommunications market, CAT claims roughly 30 percent ownership of all Thai ISPs.

AD Venture is taking charge of reviving Data Line Thai, which is burdened with debt of approximately Bt 1.45 million (US$33,720), according to local news reports. AT Cyber is reportedly investing some Bt120 million (US$2.8 million) in hardware and software in hopes of transforming Data Line Thai into a leading Thai ISP.

"Everything will be finished and approved around mid-February," said Wanchai Jonvsrisawat, an AD Venture executive. "We just expanded the equipment. Data Line Thai is a small ISP in Thailand. We have plan to increase capacity and improve the company."

Wanchai said AD Venture will supply the company with new servers and other equipment to prepare for a quickly growing number of customers. AD Venture will also transfer some staff from its ranks to Data Line Thai to combine with the company's existing staff.

AD Venture is considering shortening the name of the company but has yet to choose an abbreviated or different shorter name.

By adding Data Line Thai to its roster of companies--its second ISP--Shin Corps might appear to be angling for a corner on the Thai ISP market similar to its near-monopoly in the mobile phone business.

But AD Venture says they are merely interested in growing their existing business. Shin Corps' other ISP, CS Communications, will remain a separate business unit.

"One is enough," said Wanchai of the new acquisition. "Our intention is to build a bigger company."

Shin Corps' AD Venture is flush from a Bt 200 million (US$ 4.6 million) investment announced last week by Japan's telecom giant NTT Communications. The investment is part of a Bt 500 million (US$11.6 million) infusion from NTT to form a data center service in Thailand.

Shin Corp, the satellite telecommunications conglomerate built through government concessions and controlled by Thailand's unofficial prime minister-elect Thaksin Shinawatra, plans to help NTT expand in Thailand with data center and application service protocol (ASP) services.

AD Venture was launched in August 1999 as an e-business and Internet firm. The company is reportedly unprofitable and agreed to cut staff as part of the NTT deal. AD Venture operates a web site hosting and consulting business called Shineedotcom.

Data Line Thai Co., Ltd., provides Internet services under the name "Linethai Internet Service."



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