State telco CAT Telecom has asked the Securities Exchange Commission to delay TrueMove’s proposed 70 billion baht ($2.18 billion) infrastructure fund, claiming that 7,500 cell towers and the transmission network belong to CAT under the concession terms.
CAT SE-VP Hansa Chevapurke said that CAT’s board has told him to write to the True and the SEC asking for clarification on CAT’s claim on the assets. He made it clear that he did not mean to halt the infrastructure fund yet at this stage.
Of the 7,500 towers, 4,500 are currently under arbitration and 3,000 are awaiting arbitration. TrueMove has not transferred any of the towers to CAT since its build-transfer-operate concession began almost 15 years ago.
The arbitrator initially ruled that no decision could be made as there was no case, given that the concession was not yet over. Hansa said that CAT will re-submit the case to the arbitrators immediately after the concession ends on September 15.
The assets being packaged are 13,000 base stations, 45,000 km of fiber, 9,000 links and 1.2 million broadband ports upcountry. Revenue from 13,500 3G base stations and rental from 100 cell sites is also included in the package. Without the concessionary assets, True’s fund would only be left with the broadband ports.
The transmission network is central to CAT’s survival in a post-concession world as it plans to lease it back to the commercial telcos.
TelecomAsia reported back in July that True’s Infrastructure fund was a “house of cards”. True declined to comment at the time, saying that all news of the Infrastructure fund were ad-hoc comments by individual executives and the company had not released any official statement on the matter.