AIS asks Thai court to halt approved True-DTAC merger

AIS true dtac thailand
Image by siam.pukkato | Bigstockphoto

CommsUpdate: Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), Thailand’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscriptions, has petitioned the Central Administrative Court to revoke the regulator’s approval of the planned merger between second-placed True Corp and third-placed Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC).

According to the Bangkok Post, which cites an unnamed industry source, the petition was filed by AIS subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) on 11 November.

AWN also requested the court issue an injunction to the planned merger, pending the court’s ruling.

On 10 November, the article adds, the Thailand Consumer Council also petitioned the Central Administrative Court to repeal the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC’s) resolution, arguing that a merger would lead to market control and unfair competition.

The petition also alleged that the voting process was illegitimate.

Toppling AIS

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the merger has been in the works since November 2021, when True Corp and DTAC agreed to merge their operations as they seek to topple AIS and create a new market leader.

AIS currently has a market share of 47%. The resulting True-DTAC entity would have a combined market share of around 52%. It is also expected to be worth an estimated $8.6 billion.

On 20 October, NBTC board voted three against two to take the position that it had no authority to approve or reject the planned merger, before issuing remedy measures.

According to Reuters, the conditions imposed on the tie-up include a price ceiling and price controls, as well as a requirement for independent verification of cost structure and service fee for at least five years.

In addition, service rates such as voice, data, messaging must be shown separately and based on average cost pricing, the report noted.

The conditions reportedly could have been worse. According to another Bangkok Post report, citing an unnamed industry source, several NBTC commissioners sought tougher conditions such as prohibiting the merger of True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) and dtac TriNet (DTN) – the mobile units of the respective companies – for three years. Some also favored a ban on spectrum sharing anywhere from three years to indefinitely.

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