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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        30  May 2011

Thai telecom reorganization may hurt

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The board of TOT Plc is expected to approve a major business restructuring despite concerns that the changes could hurt the chances for success of its 3G mobile business, says one director.

The new structure was approved in mid-May by an executive board meeting chaired by Aekasit Wansom without any acknowledgement from senior management.

Mr. Aekasit also chairs the committee to evaluate the performance of the TOT president. TOT president Arnont Tubtiang has said his key performance indicators include minimizing overlap in the state organisation's operations and streamlining businesses.

The timing of the exercise has also been questioned, given that there is an election campaign under way. Typically after a new government is formed, the boards of the state telecom enterprises resign in order to give the new Information and Communications Technology minister a free hand to make choices.

A TOT executive, who asked not to be named, said the board was expected to discuss the new business and executive management structure on June 9.

The executive said the changes were being heavily criticized by some TOT management and partners, who feel a professional business plan and strategy are lacking.

The state enterprise proposes to reduce its business groups to nine from 12 under the new structure, with a major change in the mobile business group including the 3G unit, said the executive.

TOT will merge the mobile service business group with the wireless-USO (Universal Service Obligation) group, putting both under a new "wireless business group".

It will also dissolve two of the five business units under the mobile service group, leaving only the strategic, wireless engineering and general business units.

Another TOT executive said the original mobile business structure was a fully integrated platform providing flexible management and operations.

Under the new structure, he said, big problems could emerge when the mobile concession of Advanced Info Service expires in 2018.

At that time, the private operator's network is to be transferred to TOT under the original build-transfer-operate agreement. The new wireless business group, apparently seen as a technical operation, will be responsible for managing AIS's considerable network assets, which now serve about 31 million customers.

"The new structure intends to streamline the enterprise's management and operations. But it's not a practical way of doing business in the future," he said. "Overall it's a messy structure." The source expressed concern that TOT's 3G business, tentatively scheduled to start in the next three months, could be affected because of duplicated management and operations.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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