China Mobile and Japan's NTT DoCoMo are both reportedly considering taking over Thailand's AIS, if it defaults on the $2.4 billion the government is seeking in compensation.
Executives from the two operators have met with ICT minister Juti Krairiksh to discuss the potential of one of them stepping in to operate AIS' mobile business, the Bangkok Post said, citing an unnamed source.
SK Telecom has also been briefed by the government, the source said, adding that China Mobile and DoCoMo have been asked to submit proposals within two weeks.
The source claimed that the government was preparing for AIS being unable to come up with the 74 billion baht ($2.4 billion) it wants the operator to pay as a result of amendments to concession terms under past governments.
The government is pressuring state-owned TOT, AIS' consessioner, to pursue the funds in court because it alleges that the amendments were invalid.
Nearly half – five in twelve – of TOT's board quit last week over fear of legal reprisals from AIS as a result of the attempted cash grab.
AIS is Thailand's largest GSM operator, and is controlled by the Shin Corporation.
As well as AIS, the government may try to penalize DTAC, True Corp and TT&T over related issues.