TOT-CAT merger date set

TOT-CAT merger date set

National Telecom to operate by Jan 13

The merger of state telecom enterprises TOT and CAT Telecom is scheduled to take place by Jan 13 at the latest, says Buddhipongse Punnakanta, digital economy and society (DES) minister.

He said the management teams of the two enterprises must figure out the most suitable date for the merger ceremony, which will fall between Jan 4 and 13.

The two will merge to become National Telecom (NT). The merger was originally planned for July 14, 2020, but was put off for six months due to the volume of paperwork between the two enterprises and their creditors, as well as the impact of the pandemic.

A fresh schedule was spelled out as Mr Buddhipongse attended a meeting with the management of TOT and CAT on Friday to follow up on the planned merger.

TOT acting president Morakot Theinmontree said after the merger, NT will have co-presidents for a certain period -- the president of CAT and himself -- as the new firm will have to undergo a transition.

In January, several units from the two companies have to be consolidated in the first phase, including finance, back office, strategy, human resources and legal.

Some other critical units, such as IT, may have to wait between nine months and one year to consolidate.

NT can set up new business units or subsidiaries as needed, starting from businesses that have a clear system, such as mobile operations.

Mr Morakot said NT may need to have a superboard to proceed with decision-making for strategic moves.

Mr Buddhipongse said he assigned the two companies to work closely in the merger and the new organisation needs to engage with 5G services.

CAT and TOT are in talks with private companies to become their strategic partners in 5G service.

TOT won four slots on the 26-gigahertz spectrum range for the 5G spectrum licence auction held on Feb 16, while CAT secured two slots on the 700-megahertz low band.

The spectrum ranges acquired by the two companies will be used for innovative technological solutions for public services, such as healthcare, transport and education, said Mr Buddhipongse.

TOT and CAT are seeking partners to ensure service capacity and minimise the weak points in their spectrum infrastructure and business.

"The 5G development will require the involvement of private operators and is not meant to serve certain industries or rich people," he said.

"This service is intended for all Thais to raise their quality of life."

The DES Ministry recently assigned TOT to establish a data centre in 2021 to cater to private sector demand in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

TOT is in the process of studying the details of the centre.

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