Thailand Telecom Regulator Gives Conditional Clearance to True and DTAC Merger

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BANGKOK, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Thailand’s telecommunications regulator has cleared the merger of the country’s second and third largest mobile operators, True Corporation Pcl (TRUE.BK) and Telenor ASA (TEL.OL) Total Access Communication Pcl (DTAC) (DTAC.BK) with conditions.

The terms include a price cap and price controls, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said Thursday.

The delayed decision comes nearly a year after the deal was first announced, amid fears the new entity would reduce competition in the market.

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Other conditions include requiring independent verification of cost structure and service fees for at least five years. Prices for services such as voice, data and messaging should be shown separately and based on average cost pricing.

Combined entity will exceed Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS) (FORWARD.BK), as the market leader. True and DTAC have 34% and 21% mobile subscribers respectively. AIS controls 44% of the market.

Admittedly, DTAC and AIS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

DTAC is supported by the Norwegian company Telenor.

Thai agribusiness conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group has a 49% stake in True Corp, with China Mobile holding 18%, True’s website says.

Telenor and CP Group are expected to each own a third of the shares of the new entity, China Mobile with 10% and the rest listed on the stock exchange.

Rival AIS is owned by InTouch Holdings Pcl (INTUCH.BK)who counts Gulf Energy Development Pcl (GULF.BK) and Sintel (STEL.SI) as its main investors.

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Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Susan Fenton; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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