Ex-CAT chief tipped to be NT boss

Ex-CAT chief tipped to be NT boss

Col Sanphachai seen as leading candidate

Col Sanphachai Huvanandana
Col Sanphachai Huvanandana

Col Sanphachai Huvanandana, former president of CAT Telecom and former board member of National Telecom (NT), is tipped to be the new chief of NT, according to a source at the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry.

He submitted his application for the NT presidency at the company's headquarters shortly before the one-month application deadline closed on April 11, said a source who requested anonymity.

Col Sanphachai's application was expected by various people in the industry based on his standing with some NT board members and his government ties, the source said.

Three people including Col Sanphachai applied for the leadership role at the NT, founded in January last year through the merger of CAT Telecom and TOT, both state telecom enterprises.

This is the second attempt by NT to find a new president.

The first round, which saw five candidates vying for the post, faltered as the selection committee concluded last month the contestants were unsuitable for the leadership role at NT, even though they passed the qualification checks.

The second selection process is expected to wrap up by May.

Gp Capt Somsak Khaosuwan, an NT board member, now serves as acting president of NT, a position he has held since the venture was established.

Nattapon Nattasomboon, DES deputy permanent secretary and chairman of the selection committee, said NT needs to have a management leader who can help ease all existing burdens, create new revenue streams and has a good understanding of the state-run company.

NT faces critical challenges, including the protracted consolidation of CAT Telecom and TOT because of differences in their organisational culture and management structures, he said.

The company also has to deal with the major task of operating the Thaicom 4 and 6 satellites, which were handed over by SET-listed satellite service operator Thaicom after its concession expired in September last year.

NT needs to seek new income sources to ensure a sustainable revenue stream as its existing spectrum partnership deals with other telecom operators are due to expire in 2025.

The company has been in talks with Advanced Info Service and True Corporation, the No.1 and No.2 mobile carriers in Thailand in terms of subscriber base, to enter new partnership deals.

NT secured the 700-megahertz spectrum range through the 5G spectrum auction held in 2020, but the firm has yet to capitalise on the frequency.

DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said NT faces various complicated issues, including the lack of a president, resignation of some board members and efforts to ensure the smooth consolidation of CAT Telecom and TOT.

Various projects are also hindered by legal issues, agreement conditions and the involvement of different parties, he said.

Last year NT booked 98.2 billion baht in revenue and 96 billion in expenses, excluding an early retirement scheme that cost 2.4 billion baht.

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