Thailand has suspended the partial privatisation of state-owned power utility Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) ahead of the initial public offering due at the end of the month.

A coalition of 11 anti-privatisation groups have been granted an injunction to suspend the EGAT sale by a five-member panel at the Supreme Administrative Court. The deal, worth around $855 million for a 16% stake in the utility, will be postponed until the court hears a petition opposing the sale, the date for which has not so far been disclosed.

Opponents of the sale argue that the partial privatisation would harm consumers while enriching a small number of politically influential players. Thai Energy Minister Viset Choopiban, however, has defended the plan saying any delay or cancellation would damage investor confidence.

Nonetheless, a lack of clarity over the structure of the energy sector and its regulation has led some to commend the delay, even though they are generally in favour of the privatisation programme, suggesting that the delay will give the government time to put the regulatory structure in order.