Deals - Asia

Thailand approves merger of state-owned telecoms firms

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand on Tuesday approved the merger of two state-run telecommunication companies, CAT Telecom and TOT, into the National Telecom company (NT), which will compete with private operators in the upcoming spectrum auctions, a senior government official said.

The National Telecom company will help promote the government’s policy in digital infrastructure and provide services to the public, government spokeswoman, Narumon Pinyosinwat told reporters, adding that the merger should be completed in six months.

The Digital Economy and Society Ministry will oversee the newly formed company, she added.

The merged entity will participate in the upcoming 5G spectrum auctions on the 700 megahertz (MHz), 800 Mhz, 2600 Mhz and the 26 gigahertz frequency bands on Feb. 16, held by the National Broadcasting Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), she said.

The high-band spectrums allow high data speeds that support applications such as virtual and augmented reality, self-driving cars, the remote control of industrial robots, and super-fast downloads of movies in high definition.

Thailand's top three mobile operators, Advanced Info Service Pcl ADVANC.BK, True Corporation Pcl TRUE.BK and Total Access Communication Pcl DTAC.BK have picked up bidding documents from the NBTC.

CAT Telecom and TOT have also picked up the bid documents.

The spectrum licences all together worth at least 160 billion baht ($5.28 billion) based on their reserve price.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng, editing by Louise Heavens