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Thaicom threatens to cancel satellite

Relations between the Thai government and telco Thaicom are somewhat strained over the country’s Digital Economy & Society Ministry, and their intention to significantly raise licence fees to operate a new satellite, Thaicom-9.

Local press reports say that the Ministry is seeking a 20.5 per cent licence fee of any revenue generated by the satellite. Currently Thaicom pays a 5.75 per cent slice of total revenues received.

The grumbles have been going on for some months, and back in August last year Philip Tan, president & group CEO of Thaicom’s parent, InTouch Holdings, said he was willing to reach a ‘win-win’ compromise with the government.

Thaicom’s satellite division is already under financial pressure because of falls in revenues and profits last year.

Now, Thaicom is threatening to cancel Thaicom-9, and CFO Vuthi Asvasermcharoen told the Bangkok Post on February 21st that one option was simply to rent space on a neighbouring satellite, or to find a “strategic partner” to work with and thus sidestep the questions of government licenses.   Several potential customers have expressed interested in renting Thaicom 9 on a long-term contract basis, said Vuthi.

Thaicom-9 is due for launch in 2019.

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