Massive DTAC, True merger to seek regulators’ blessing

Two of Thailand’s largest mobile operators will meet with regulators this week after word got out they are negotiating a possible merger.

Charoen Pokphand, the nation’s dominant conglomerate, and Norway’s Telenor will need regulatory approval to combine operations of No. 3 True and No. 2 DTAC, respectively, into a joint venture with more than 50 million subscribers between them. 

“Today is a step forward in that direction. We hope to empower a whole new generation to fulfil their potential to become digital entrepreneurs leveraging an advanced telecom infrastructure,” Suphachai Chearavanont, CP Group CEO and True Corp. Chairman, said in a statement this morning. 

They would seek to raise capital of US$100 to US$299 million to invest in promising digital startups focusing on new products and services. The companies also laid out plans for a shareholder stock swap for the new entity.

Any deal would require regulatory approval, but it’s rare for antitrust concerns to jeopardize any budding monopolies. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission reportedly wants to assess the impact on consumers of the deal, which had been long rumored until word spread it was happening last week. 

True and DTAC will continue to operate independently for now.  

True has a total mobile subscriber base of 32 million while DTAC has 19.3 million. By joining forces, the venture would have more than 51 million subscribers, putting it above No. 1 Advanced Info Service, or AIS, which has 43.7 million.

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