Bloomberg | February 1, 2011 | Supunnabul Suwannakij and Daniel Ten Kate
Thai state-run phone company TOT Plc plans to seek 214.7 billion baht ($7 billion) in compensation mostly from four private businesses for unpaid access charges and contract changes made during previous governments.
TOT will pursue 76.4 billion baht from Advanced Info Service Pcl, 97 billion baht from Total Access Communication Pcl, 36.4 billion baht from True Corp. and 700 million baht from TT&T Plc, according to the statement. The Information and Technology Ministry will negotiate with the companies and report back to the Cabinet in 15 days, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.
“The negotiation aims to go back to use the original contracts,” Abhisit told reporters today after a Cabinet meeting. “If the negotiation fails, the ICT ministry will use legal options, including a lawsuit.”
The measures are the first punitive action taken since a government legal advisory body ruled in 2007 that changes to contracts with state-run concession holders failed to comply with the law. Advanced Info, Total Access and True combined have 68 million subscribers, almost equal to the entire population in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.
The country’s three biggest mobile-phone companies have denied wrongdoing and pledged to fight any action in court. TOT is also seeking 4.2 billion baht from CAT Telecom Plc, another state-run company, according to its statement.
“The dispute will take several years to be resolved by the legal process,” said Jitra Amornthum, the head of research at Finansia Syrus Securities Pcl. “The impact on the share prices of those companies will be limited.”