Thai tie-ups abound: TOT-True, TOT-AIS, CAT-DTAC; plus TOT-CAT deal back on?

28 Jan 2008

At the weekend, the board of state-run telco TOT said it would take a week to consider a new proposal to buy sister telco CAT Telecom’s 42% stake in the pair’s mobile joint venture Thai Mobile. CAT’s board has already approved selling the shares to make TOT the 100% owner of the struggling GSM operator, but the deal has stalled repeatedly as the twin telcos have failed to agree terms. CAT wants to focus on its own CDMA2000 1x-based mobile services, offered partly under a joint venture with Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecom. TOT wants to take full control of Thai Mobile to utilise its 1900MHz spectrum to launch the country’s first 3G W-CDMA services. CAT has agreed to sell its 42% stake in Thai Mobile to TOT for THB2.4 billion (USD77 million). The price is based on a December 2004 valuation, so the deal now includes subsequent debts of the cellco, which has only around 60,000 subscribers.

Elsewhere, TOT says it will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a partnership with private sector full-service telco True Corp this week. TOT spokesperson Natee Sukonrat said that both companies would share network resources and jointly develop new services, but further details of the collaboration would be discussed later. Earlier this month TOT signed a similar MoU with GSM cellco Advanced Info Services (AIS) to jointly develop converged fixed line and mobile services, including the possibility of W-CDMA services in the 900MHz band. Meanwhile, CAT has teamed up with AIS’s biggest GSM rival to trial W-CDMA/HSDPA technology in the 850MHz band, in conjunction with technology provider Ericsson.

Natee Sukonrat also announced that the TOT board has approved a budget of THB300,000 to test the provision of broadband internet access via power lines, to complement its existing DSL broadband operations.