HomeFinancial/RegulationTelenor suffers more delay in Thai merger of dtac and True

    Telenor suffers more delay in Thai merger of dtac and True


    Goalposts moved again as revised year-end deadline disappears

    The planned merger of Thai operators dtac, which is the third-largest mobile operator with Telenor as its the majority shareholder, and True is again delayed. True is the country’s second largest operator – it overtook dtac in May 2017 – and is more than 50% owned by the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group. China Mobile has an 18% stake.

    The proposed $8.6 billion (€8.37 billion) merger was announced in November 2022: one analyst commented this was hardly surprising given Telenor’s exit/consolidation strategy from many ASEAN markets, and given the fact that, “Dtac has little hope of beating its rivals, or even surviving in the long run”.

    Original and revised deadlines

    The original proposal specified that the deal was to be concluded within a year and the boards of both companies agreed to the merger in February. However, it was subjected to scrutiny due to concerns about competition – the merger would leave just two mobile operators in the Thai market with True/dtac as the bigger player.

    Despite this, in October, Thailand’s regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) gave permission for the deal to go ahead, subject to certain conditions.

    Reasons for the latest delay were not given in a statement put out by Telenor which read: “On 22 November 2021, Telenor and CP Group announced their intention to support the amalgamation of dtac and True in Thailand,” and continued, the two parties will “continue to target an equal ownership share of around 30% of the merged company”. It concluded, “The parties aim to complete the transaction within the first quarter of 2023”.