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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 08:23 GMT
Thai PM sells mobile firm stake
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Mr Thaksin's opponents have focused on his family's business life
Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has sold his family's stake in the mobile phone company he set up.

Mr Thaksin sold the 49.6% stake in Shin Corp for $1.9bn (1.1bn) in a move aimed at heading off allegations of conflict of interest.

Singapore's state-owned investment company Temasek agreed to buy the stake as it looks to tap into growing Thai demand for mobile phones and services.

The move is Thailand's biggest ever corporate takeover.

'Focus on politics'

Shin Corp has businesses covering the telecommunications, satellite, airline and media industries.

Thai woman talks on a mobile phone
Thai mobile phone use is growing

Mr Thaksin began working life as a policeman, but moved into business when he set up a computer dealership with his wife in the early 1980s.

He has since become extremely wealthy, amassing a personal fortune estimated at close to $1bn.

Mr Thaksin stepped down from Shin Corp and transferred share holdings after becoming prime minister in 2001, although members of his family still had key roles in the firm and controlled the equity stakes.

In recent months, however, he has come under fire from political rivals who allege his administration is corrupt.

Mr Thaksin said on Monday that the decision to sell up was made by his children.

"They want their father to focus on politics and to avoid public criticism about conflicts of interest," he explained.

Mr Thaksin hit the headlines in the UK during 2004 after being touted as a possible buyer of a stake in Liverpool football club.

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