TOT ‘optimistic’ on completing Thai Mobile buyout

30 Aug 2006

Thai state-run telco TOT Corp insists it will complete its long-delayed buyout of its sister company CAT Telecom’s 42% stake in Thai Mobile at a cost of THB1.3 billion (USD35 million), giving it 100% control, and will absorb THB3 billion in debts at the struggling mobile joint venture, reports the Bangkok Post. TOT deputy president Chamras Tantreesukhon made the offer ahead of a meeting the two state enterprises plan to hold today to discuss the purchase. Thai Mobile is the only cellco in Thailand to hold a W-CDMA 3G licence, but has only around 100,000 subscribers in a market of over 33 million, having been plagued by infighting between its two shareholders for four years. Mr Chamras added he was optimistic that if today’s negotiations could reach a final conclusion, TOT would be ready to re-launch Thai Mobile services and utilise the 3G spectrum. The two telcos had previously agreed on a price of THB4 million for CAT’s stake, which a source on the CAT board said it would still insist on. The source acknowledged the spread of nearly THB3 billion between the TOT offer and the CAT price would lead to tough negotiations, adding that: ‘It is normal in a business deal for the seller to want the highest price while the buyer wants to buy at the lowest price. But I believe the deal will end smoothly because [having a single shareholder for Thai Mobile] is a policy of the ICT ministry.’

Thailand, CAT Telecom, Thai Mobile, TOT