Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) has reportedly won conditional approval to purchase the firm tasked with building the city’s state’s next generation national broadband network (NGNBN), OpenNet. In September this year CommsUpdate reported that SingTel trust fund NetLink Trust proposed the acquisition of OpenNet for a consideration of SGD126 million (USD100.8 million), subject to regulatory approval from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. The move sparked an outcry from SingTel’s rivals though, and a number of telcos including M1 Limited (M1) and StarHub, requested that the government dismisses the proposal. However, Reuters reports that the IDA yesterday handed down an approval of the purchase, albeit attaching certain conditions to ensure fair competition.
Specifically, the watchdog has called for the setting up of a monitoring committee to ensure that SingTel is not able to adversely influence the management and decision making process at CityNet Infrastructure Management – the trust-manager of NetLink Trust. Further, it is also requesting that CityNet consult the IDA on the appointment of contractors and says that the group must retain ‘full independence’ in decisions relating to prices, terms and conditions for the services it offers.
For its part, SingTel has already pledged to relinquish its role as a key sub-contractor to OpenNet within twelve months of the completion of the latter’s purchase, and to cut its stake in NetLink Trust to less than 25% by 22 April 2018.