The proposed merger of Thai operators True Corporation and DTAC (Total Access Communication) has hit yet another setback, with the board of regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) reportedly looking to impose strict measures on the deal if it cannot block it outright.
Citing a source who wished to remain anonymous, the Bangkok Post reported that the board will meet this week to discuss resolutions governing the proposed merger, and will likely begin by determining whether it is authorised to approve or reject the deal.
However, the Bangkok Post’s source noted that “approving the deal to proceed is the safe way to guard against future legal backlash of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, which concerns malfeasance.” Minority shareholders in True have already taken against the NBTC under this Section on the grounds that delays in the merger process are damaging the operator and the wider industry.
Approving the deal would avoid prompting backlash under Section 157, allowing the board to impose tough conditions on the deal that could only be petitioned via the Administrative Court. The NBTC’s office has currently proposed 14 measures governing the deal, but several commissioners have reportedly dismissed these as being “too weak”.
The current draft conditions prohibit a merger between the mobile units of the merging parties - TUC (True Move H Universal Communication) and DTN (dtac TriNet) – within three years of the initial merger. The mobile arms will also be unable to share spectrum for the same period, and must set aside 20% of their combined network capacity for MVNOs. The Bangkok Post’s source speculated that this week’s board meeting could see this three-year moratorium extended indefinitely.
True and dtac first confirmed plans to merge in November 2021, and the deal has been plagued with setbacks since its announcement. CommsUpdate reports that if it closes, the merged entity will be worth around US$8.6 billion.