Thai media mogul drops newspaper takeover attempt

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

The head of GMM Grammy in Thailand has backed off from his attempts to take over the leading Thai newspaper, Matichon. In a statement on Friday, Mr Paiboon Damrongchaitham announced he would reduce his stake in the paper from 32% to 12%.

The attempted takeover has drawn widespread criticism from journalists, academics, and democracy activists. Mr Paiboon is known to be close to the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and many argued his control of the well-respected paper would have a chilling effect on free speech in the country.

Despite announcing the planned sale of more than a third of his holding in the paper, Mr Paiboon will still have a sufficiently large share to command a place on the board. Academic, Anusorn Srikaew, the dean of Rangsit University's Faculty of Communication Arts, suggested that GMM Grammy's ambitions had just been shelved and that they would again increase their stake in the paper at some point in the future.

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