Two of the four panels set up by Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) have voted against approving a proposed merger between operators True and dtac.
As reported by The Bangkok Post, the regulator created the subcommittees to assess the impact of the merger across four areas – law, consumer protection, technology, and economics – since the deal is under close public scrutiny. All four panels have now concluded their analysis, with members of the subcommittees assessing law and consumer protection permitted to vote for or against the deal.
The margins were significant; the law panel voted 10-1 against the merger, and while the consumer protection panel saw two abstentions, its vote was still 6-2 against the deal. Members of the other two panels were not granted a vote on the matter; in the case of the panel assessing economics, this is reportedly because it is led by Commissioner Suphat Supachalasai, who sits on the NBTC’s board and therefore has influence over the fate of the merger.
However, the economic subcommittee’s study found that the merger could adversely affect GDP growth by 0.05%-1.99%, and additionally could increase the inflation rate by 0.05%-2.07%, and drive up mobile prices by 2.03% to 19.5%. These figures all depend on the degree of collusion between the country’s operators post-merger.
The four subcommittees will now submit their findings to the NBTC’s management, which will then draft an executive summary along with remedy measures for the deal, which will then be sent to the board. Next week, the board will review the findings of each panel and hold hearings for three focus groups relating to the merger.
True and dtac’s proposed merger would create a new market leader in Thailand, and has been met with resistance from current market leader AIS as well as the Thailand Consumer Council.