Japan’s Softbank and the Sumitomo Group have ‘essentially committed’ to providing financial assistance to Thai state-owned telco TOT to support its second phase of 3G network rollout, reports the Bangkok Post. Both Japanese companies have reportedly agreed to provide soft loans to TOT in exchange for a joint venture stake in the telco. TOT’s CEO Yongyuth Wattanasin was quoted as saying that, before arranging a share acquisition by Softbank and Sumitomo, his company will appraise the value of its 2100MHz spectrum and existing 5,320 3G base station sites (4,200 currently active), which according to previous estimates is worth roughly a combined THB30 billion (USD1 billion). Mr Yongyuth said Softbank approached TOT with a financial offer last year, while Sumitomo showed intent this month. ‘We’ll decide on the proposals by October,’ he declared, although added that TOT is considering other options for financial support for its second phase 3G rollout, including seeking local bank loans or entering a joint venture partnership with a private sector Thai mobile operator.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Softbank is in third place in the Japanese mobile subscriber market and also occupies second spot in Japan’s fixed broadband sector, while the Sumitomo group has a 40% stake in Japan’s Jupiter Telecommunications (J:COM) alongside ownership stakes in telecoms firms in a wide range of countries, including Russia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Guam.