Hutch rejects govt price on CAT

Dylan Bushell-Embling
02 Nov 2010
00:00

Hutchison is unlikely to exit Thailand anytime soon, after it reportedly baulked at the government's offer for its cdma2000 network.

The Hong Kong company is unwilling to sell the network to JV partner, state-owned CAT Telecom, for less than $220 million (6.57b baht).

It considers the 4 billion baht figure proposed by ICT minister Juti Kririksh “impossible,” as it represents just a single year of projected earnings.

The operator, which has no further Thai 3G plans, would rather let the network expire than sell at that price, a source told the Bangkok Post.

Hutchison currently owns a 74% stake, and CAT 26%, in Hutchison CAT Wireless Telemedia, the JV set up to market services over the network.

Kririksh's valuation is based on the price CAT paid for its separate cdma2000 network, while Hutchison includes the cost burden for upgrading CAT's network equipment to EV-DO.

CAT has been trying for years to buy the Hutch network, which covers 25 provinces, and merge it with its own cdma2000 assets for a single nationwide network.

With regulator NTC currently unable to auction spectrum on the 2100MHz band, and the only operator with a license facing delays rolling out 3G infrastructure, a combined network would be a valuable asset in Thailand’s capacity-constrained mobile market today.

MORE ARTICLES ON: 3G auction, CAT, Hutchison, Hutchison CAT, Thailand

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