(The Nation via NewsEdge) Thailand's ShinSat is among 4 companies short-listed to bid for a license to operate the first private cellular service in Bhutan.
A report from Kuensel, the online version of Bhutan's English-language national newspaper, also said the auction is likely to take place this month, according to officials of the Bhutan Infocom and Media Authority (BIMA).
An informed source in the Thai telecom industry said that Bhutan initially invited AIS, Thailand's largest cellular operator, to participate in the bidding but Shin, AIS's parent company, assigned ShinSat to the mission instead.
'It's because AIS has no history of doing business in overseas markets, while ShinSat has operated telecom businesses in Cambodia and Laos,' the source said.
According to Kuensel, three of the four short-listed companies are joint ventures.
The Singye Group is tied with Indian giant Reliance; Druktel, a consortium of Bhutanese companies, is linked with Airtel India; and ShinSat is amalgamated with Bhutan Steel.
The Tashi Group is the only independent company taking part in the bidding.
The BIMA has ruled that the Bhutanese partner of any joint venture must hold an equity share of at least 51%.
The winner of the 15-year license is required to pay for 25% of it upfront, with the remainder to be paid throughout their operating tenure. The new operator must begin providing their service within one year of being granted the license.
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