Thai number three dtac is in talks with state-owned CAT about the possibility of a long-term infrastructure partnership.
The companies made a previous attempt to form a joint venture but it was ruled illegal by the Council of State in 2015 as dtac held a 51% stake in the unit, which violated a law stipulating that the government must hold at least 51% of projects related to core state infrastructure.
With dtac’s concessions with CAT set to expire on 15th September, the companies are discussing an infrastructure leasing agreement that would enable CAT to carry on using dtac’s towers after this date. The state-owned operator is currently able to provide mobile services on the 850MHz and 1.8GHz bands, but the firms are looking to agree a deal that would extend this permission to all spectrum bands.
Dtac is looking to secure an agreement with CAT that will last at least 10 years, according to its chief of corporate affairs and business development officer Rajiv Bawa. He noted that the objective of a partnership would be to transfer ownership of 100% of dtac’s 9000 2G telecoms towers to CAT with a build, operate, transfer arrangement.
Owned by Norway’s Telenor, dtac has seen its market share decline in the first quarter of the year, and was overtaken for second place by rival operator True. Its CEO Lars-Ake Norling is leaving the company in the third quarter, and the impending expiry of its concessions with CAT mean that the firm is likely to be adversely affected by the recent delay to Thailand’s planned spectrum auction. Dtac did not acquire any spectrum in 2015’s auctions, so once its concessions expire it will have very limited spectrum.