AIS urged to retract NBTC lawsuit amidst True-DTAC merger controversy


In an undisclosed revelation from employees within the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), it was indicated that Advanced Info Service (AIS) has been encouraged to retract its lawsuit against last year’s NBTC board resolution, which validated the amalgamation of True-DTAC. This lawsuit could potentially create complications for the commission when deliberating the ongoing acquisition of the fixed broadband service 3BB by AIS.

One undisclosed informant specified that these commissioners anticipate blockades for the board while reflecting on the AIS deal, influenced by the same 2018 regulations that founded its verdict regarding the True-DTAC merger.

The NBTC board chairman, Dr Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck, expressed that the AIS lawsuit against the NBTC’s acknowledgement of the True-DTAC merger could infer that AIS opposes the procedures under the 2018 regulations, the same regulations set to shape considerations about the AIS-3BB deal.

On October 20, last year, the NBTC board decided, by a 3-2 vote, that it lacks authority to either endorse or reject the planned True-DTAC merger, thereby facilitating the acquisition. The board merely acknowledged the merger plans and set out consumer remedy measures, drawing from the 2018 regulations, which clarify that the NBTC’s role extends only to the governance of mergers, not approval or rejection.

Nonetheless, AIS responded the following month, appealing to the Central Administrative Court to override the NBTC’s resolution, indicating its contradiction with the previous frequency licence auction’s conditions. These forbid mobile operators from possessing a spectrum bandwidth across multiple ranges surpassing the NBTC’s spectrum cap rule.

The ongoing lawsuit contends that the resolution favours the True-DTAC merger and accuses the NBTC board of lacking in the execution of its governance responsibilities as outlined in the regulations.

The True and DTAC merger, achieved in March, birthed the company, True Corporation.

Despite the undisclosed tips from the NBTC, an anonymous source from AIS management confirmed that withdrawal from the lawsuit is improbable, reported Bangkok Post. Confidence in the legal grounds against the NBTC board’s resolution remains strong among both company management and legal advisors.

Further distinguishing the two cases, the source noted that the acquisition of 3BB by AIS is different from a merger. AIS has already formally approached the NBTC, seeking endorsement or rejection of the deal.

Prawit Leesathapornwongsa, a past NBTC commissioner, spoke to the separate nature of the AIS lawsuit, the True-DTAC merger, and the acquisition of 3BB by AIS.

Opponents of the merger maintain that the NBTC should act within its remit to inhibit monopolistic or unfair competition within the telecom sector, as set out in its 2006 regulation. Supporters of this stance argue that the NBTC is legally equipped to prohibit business mergers or acquisitions if they threaten to foster monopolistic or unfair competition.

In response, NBTC management asserted last year that while they cannot directly annul mergers or acquisitions, they can implement measures to avert monopoly or unfair competition. Though 2010 regulations granted the NBTC board the right to reject or approve merger deals, these were replaced in 2018.

With a focus on the fixed broadband service 3BB’s acquisition by AIS and its investment in Jasmine Broadband Internet Infrastructure Fund, the NBTC board, already in favour of the guidelines proposed by NBTC management, approved them in principle. The NBTC office has set up four separate subcommittees to authenticate the information and stipulations of these two deals before forwarding them for the board’s evaluation. Dr Sarana suggests they would conclude their review by the close of 2023.

In related news, the planned merger and acquisition between True and DTAC has been the subject of intense discussion. The telecom regulator of Thailand has approved the controversial merger of True and DTAC, two major mobile operators in Thailand. Read the full story HERE.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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