True Move is seeking to restart talks with prospective foreign partners in order to fund 3G expansion despite legal fears over its recent takeover of the Hutch network – to be rebranded True Move H –and 3G partnership with state-run CAT Telecom, the Bangkok Post writes. ‘We’re proceeding with our 3G business expansion as planned, confident that our Hutch takeover deal is legitimate and complies with the law,’ said Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of parent True Corp. The deal with Hong Kong’s Hutchison is under investigation by the Office of the Auditor-General, which wants clarification from previous Hutch joint venture partner CAT and the Information & Communications Technology Ministry [whilst rival DTAC this week launched a court injunction attempt against CAT and True’s subsequent 3G tie-up made possible by the Hutch takeover, as reported in CommsUpdate today]. Mr Suphachai said True was now open to negotiations with a shortlist of prospective major foreign telecoms companies for a strategic partnership this year. ‘We’ll limit foreign holding in the venture to no more than 24% for flexible management and operations,’ he said, adding that True Move did not need financial assistance now that True Corp was set to raise THB13 billion (USD433 million) in new capital through a rights offering to fund 3G development and repay some debts. The share register for the offering closed on 12 April, with the payment period scheduled for 30 May to 3 June. ‘We want a partner with strong expertise and technical know-how in the mobile phone sector,’ said Suphachai. He declined to name potential partners, but an industry source said four telecom giants in Asia and Europe had been shortlisted including China Mobile and NTT DoCoMo of Japan.
True aims to spend THB12 billion over three years to build 2,000 HSPA base stations this year, 3,500 next year and 4,500 in 2013, covering 75% of the population with the capacity to serve four million customers.