Thailand’s ICT ministry has ordered state-run CAT Telecom to re-negotiate the price it had agreed with Hutchison Telecommunications International (HTI) to buy 100% of their joint venture CDMA mobile operation in Bangkok and central provinces of the country, reports Telecompaper. CAT had earlier agreed to buy out HTI, a wholly owned division of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa, from Hutchison CAT Wireless Multimedia (HCWM, operating under the Hutch brand) for THB7.2 billion (USD230 million), in a move given Cabinet approval in April, but the ministry has now decided that the price should be lowered to around THB4 billion. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that HCWM is 75% owned by HTI with CAT owning the remainder, whilst the CDMA2000-based Hutch network, upgraded in certain sections with 3G 1xEV-DO technology, is owned by HTI’s 100%-held subsidiary BFKT, although the telecoms operating licence is solely held by CAT, with its Hong Kong-based partner ‘marketing’ services – thereby sidestepping foreign ownership restrictions. CAT has rolled out EV-DO across other provinces in the north and south of the country and intends to combine its ‘CAT CDMA’ 2G/3G service with the Hutch network, whilst expanding EV-DO across all central areas. HTI has released the bare minimum of CAPEX into its Thai unit in recent years as it prepares to exit the country.
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