Acting NBTC Orders Revision of True-CAT deal

On 28 September 2011, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered revision within 30 days of the 3G contract between the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) – one of the two major state enterprises engaging in telecommunication businesses – and TRUE – the third largest mobile phone operator in Thailand according to Mass Communications Organization of Thailand and as reported in the Bangkok Post.

The NTC made the order in its capacity as the “acting” National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), as the NBTC panel recently elected by the Senate only obtained royal endorsement on 7 October 2011.

TRUE entered into the 3G deal with CAT earlier this year just after the THB 6.3 billion acquisition of Hutch, another mobile phone operator that provided services based on CAT’s CDMA platform, at the end of last year. This same CAT-TRUE 3G deal was also the starting point for ongoing legal battles between TRUE and DTAC, the second largest mobile phone operator according to the Thai language Manager On-Line

The NTC’s order runs contrary to the Attorney-General’s opinion four months ago that the CAT-TRUE 3G deal was in compliance with the law. The NTC concluded that the CAT-TRUE 3G contract breached anti-monopoly and unfair business practices regulations in the telecommunications sector, which have been in effect since 2006, and that the acquisition of Hutch by TRUE last year failed to comply with merger and cross-shareholding regulations. The NTC also ordered TRUE to rectify its allegedly unlawful shareholding structure.