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Thai court confirms 3G auction freeze

BANGKOK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - A Thai court on Thursday ordered the telecoms regulator to halt a third-generation mobile licence auction, backing an injunction from a lower court that had frozen the process after a request from a state telecoms company.

CAT Telecoms Plc had submitted appeals to the Central Administrative Court to block the process. It says its interests would be damaged and that the National Telecommunications Commission does not have the authority to offer the licences.

The Central Administrative Court had ruled that a new body, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), must be formed first before the auction can take place, in line with the 2007 constitution.

Subsidiaries of the top three Thai telecoms operators were all due to take part in the bidding, which was supposed to have started on Monday.

The three are market leader Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS) ADVA.BK, second-ranked Total Access Communication Pcl (TAC) DTAC.BK and True Corp Pcl TRUE.BK, owner of third-largest mobile operator True Move.

AIS is 21 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd STEL.SI and TAC is controlled by Norway's Telenor TEL.OL. ($1 = 30.73 Baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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