Telecoms take in regulator's proposals on foreign dominance
Telecom operators are examining the possible impact of the national telecom regulator's draft regulations on preventing foreign dominance in local telecom businesses.
Sigve Brekke, chief executive of the second largest cellular operator, Total Access Communication (DTAC), said DTAC was studying the regulations and did not think they would affect the DTAC group.
Weerachai Patcharopaswong, assistant vice president of the largest cellular operator, Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), likewise said AIS was studying the possible impact but declined to elaborate.
Athueck Asvanund, vice chairman of True Corp Plc, said that the regulations showed the NTC's "good intention" to ensure good governance and transparency on the part of local telecom operators.
He added that the NTC should pay attention to effectively applying the regulations and plugging any possible loopholes.
The NTC should also keep improving the regulations from time to time to catch up with possible attempts by any company to evade them.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) approved the draft regulations last week. They aim to prevent the use of nominees by foreign shareholders of the local telecom operators and to distinguish legal owners from actual beneficiaries of local telecom operators.
The regulations are applicable to NTC licensees and their concessionaires. The NTC can revoke the licences if licensees or their concessionaires fail to comply with the regulations.
The NTC also allows people to post opinions on the draft at its homepage, www.ntc.or.th, as part of its finalising of the regulations. They are expected to come into effect in May.
Currently Singapore's state investment arm, Temasek Holdings, controls 96.12 per cent of AIS's parent Shin Corp Plc through its subsidiaries Cedar Holdings and Aspen Holdings.
The Commerce Ministry is examining if Cedar and Cedar's shareholder, Kularb Kaew, are nominees of Temasek.
Cedar's shareholders are Cypress Holdings of Temasek, with a 46.55-per-cent shareholding, Kularb Kaew with 43.16 per cent and Siam Commercial Bank with around 5.2 per cent.
Kularb Kaew's shareholders include Thai businessman Surin Upatkoon, with a 68-per-cent shareholding, Cypress with 29.9 per cent and Pong Sarasin and Suppadet Poonpipat with a combined 4.25 per cent.
Currently Telenor Asia and its local affiliate Thai Telco jointly own an 86-per-cent stake in DTAC's parent company, United Communication Industry (Ucom). Thai Telco is 49 per cent owned by Telenor Asia, a strategic partner of both Ucom and DTAC.
Thai agricultural conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group is True's major shareholder, with a 34.17-per-cent holding.