Thailand's AIS, DTAC to compete in $3.4 billion spectrum auction

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's largest mobile operator Advanced Info Service Pcl ADVANC.BK and third-ranked Total Access Communication Pcl (DTAC) DTAC.BK said on Wednesday they would participate in the network spectrum auction later this month.

The decision to participate in the auction for 1800 Mhz frequency band is due to future growth potential in the telecommunication sector, AIS said in a statement during midday trading break.

DTAC, which is 43 percent owned by Norway's Telenor Group TEL.OL, decided to participate in the 1800 megahertz (MHz) spectrum tender after auction terms were revised to be more flexible, Chief Executive Officer Lars Norling said.

DTAC shares jumped as much as 15 percent on the announcement, their biggest percentage gain since Dec. 28, 2017.

AIS, 23 percent owned by Singapore's SingTel STEL.SI, and DTAC will sit out of the 900 MHz bid, they said separately.

Rival True Corp Pcl TRUE.BK said on Tuesday it would not take part in the auctions.

True Corp shares were trading 3 percent higher on Wednesday.

Regulator National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) had scrapped a previous tender in June after three Thai mobile operators sat out of the auctions citing onerous terms.

The NBTC will put up nine 5-MHz licenses under the 1800 MHz spectrum auction set for Aug. 19 at a reserve price of 12.49 billion baht ($375.9 million) each, representing a total of about $3.4 billion.

One 5-MHz license under the 900 MHz spectrum will be auctioned for 37.99 billion baht on Aug. 18.

The auctions sought to raise a total of 150.36 billion baht.

An operator can hold up to four 1800 MHz licenses with a lifetime span of 15 years each.

AIS and DTAC did not specify how many licenses they would pursue.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Wirat Buranakanokthanasan; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Gopakumar Warrier