Thailand may relax foreign ownership rules

Dylan Bushell-Embling
18 Nov 2011

Thailand's new regulator, NBTC, may loosen or even do away with recent regulation limiting foreign investment in the nation's telecom sector.

NBTC's commissioner has scheduled a hearing to consider rules designed to prevent “foreign dominance” of the telecom sector, and whether they are at odds with Thailand's free trade principles, the Nationreported.

The rules, introduced in August by former regulator NTC, sought to protect Thai businesses and prevent the alleged practice of foreign investors using local nominees to increase their effective holdings in Thai operators beyond the currently permissible 49%.

In a bid to prevent DTAC's 3G partnership deal with CAT, rival True Move in June, accused Norway's Telenor of owning 70% of DTAC. Although DTAC escaped legal action over its ownership structure, the dispute cast new light on the issue of foreign ownership of Thai telecom firms.

But the new rules have been opposed by a number of international organizations, and some domestic operators have argued that they will discourage investment in the telecom sector.

The hearing will take place on November 30, and be attended by a number of stakeholders.

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