Thai state-owned telco TOT will this month ask its board to consider shutting down its unprofitable mobile phone unit, Thai Mobile, according to the company’s president Teerawit Charuwat. Thai Mobile is the country’s smallest mobile provider, with less than 200,000 subscribers, and has accumulated losses of THB3 billion (USD73 million) since 2002. Charuwat said that closing the cellco is ‘one of the options that will be submitted to the board on 19 January.’
Thai Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of holding company ACT Mobile. ACT Mobile was originally owned by TOT Corp (58%) and fellow state-run operator CAT Telecom (42%). In July 2005 TOT agreed to pay CAT THB4 billion (USD96 million) for its 42% stake in the operator, taking full ownership of its 1900MHz concession and all assets of the company. TOT had originally offered THB2.5 billion for the stake and had asked CAT to write off its THB55 million accumulated losses in the business, but eventually had to bow to its partner’s demands to tie up the long delayed sale. TOT plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) sometime this year.