Thailand aims to rethink Thaicom concession

telecomasia.net

Thailand's ICT ministry plans to renegotiate the terms of Thaicom's satellite concession, in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling against the amendment allowing Shin Corp to reduce its minimum holding in the company.

The court recently found former ICT Minister Surapong Suebwonglee guilty of criminal malfeasance over the agreement to amend the terms of the concession, and sent him to jail for a year.

Shin Corp was allowed to reduce its stake in what is now Thaicom to 40% from 51%, which the court found was against telecoms law. The court held that the move unfairly boosted Thaicom's competitiveness and put the business at risk of foreign dominance.

As a result of the ruling the ministry plans to device a new investment model for the satellite industry to replace the licensing regime, the Bangkok Post reported.

The government is considering four investment options - turning Thaicom into a state enterprise, a public-private joint venture majority owned by the state, a more flexible public-private joint venture model or the existing licensing model with higher fees.

Negotiations with Thaicom are expected to be complete by early next year. The current concession, which involves fees amounting to 20.5% of revenue, is due to expire in 2021.

Thaicom operates three of its satellites under the concession regime, while two more are operated under an NBTC licensing system involving a license fee of 5.75% of total revenue.

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