National Telecom targets Q2 2020

National Telecom targets Q2 2020

Merger to go before cabinet by October

DE Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta (left) and Depa chief Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin at Wednesday's press conference announcing plans for Digital Thailand Big Bang 2019.
DE Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta (left) and Depa chief Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin at Wednesday's press conference announcing plans for Digital Thailand Big Bang 2019.

The new company formed by the merger of TOT Plc and CAT Telecom is expected to start operating by the second quarter of next year, says the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry.

DE Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said the merger plan was formulated last year as a solution by the government to keep the two state-run telecom enterprises afloat, after a previous plan to create two new companies from the two organisations faltered.

Under the plan, the two will merge into a new company, National Telecom Co (NT). The merger plan has been approved by the State Enterprise Policy Office.

"A merger is the best solution to eliminate redundancy of their business operations, as well as creating added value for their existing assets," Mr Buddhipongse said.

The plan needs to be carefully examined before being submitted to the cabinet by October for approval, he said.

Mr Buddhipongse directed TOT and CAT Telecom to wrap up three aspects: the employee and management structure, assets and valuation, and business agreements and contracts with other private companies.

TOT and CAT Telecom need to submit the three aspects to the minister within the next 45 days, he said.

Mr Buddhipongse acknowledged that the existing management structure could lead to some chain-of-command complications after the merger.

The government will ensure that the merger will not affect existing employees or lead to layoffs, the DE minister said. TOT now has more than 14,000 employees, while CAT has about 6,000.

The two organisations have hired financial advisers to evaluate their assets. After the merger, NT will be under the Finance Ministry.

After the cabinet approves the merger, it may take six months for the transition period.

In another development, the government on Wednesday announced plans to hold Digital Thailand Big Bang 2019, an international digital technology symposium, between Sept 28 and Oct 31.

The event, which is organised by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) at Bitec, is aimed at raising public awareness of digital transformation and connecting people with digital technology and innovation.

It also comes under the concept of Asean Connectivity this year.

The event is expected to attract 500,000 participants, Mr Buddhipongse said.

He said not all Thais have fair and equal access to digital technology.

Some have good digital access but still lack the knowledge and understanding of how to make good use of the technology, while others lack access, making it impossible to improve their quality of life and well-being, Mr Buddhipongse said.

The government intends to establish basic digital skills for Thais, he said.

"We focus not only on promoting usage at the user level, but also on developing creators of Thai-owned technologies and innovation, providing digital services to the Thai and global community," the minister said.

Depa chief Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said Digital Thailand Big Bang will have over 300 booths for the promotion of mobile apps and entrepreneurship in the digital industry.

Three zones are planned for the event, consisting of digital economy, general digital and creativity.

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