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Business >> Thursday August 02, 2007

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Forget about ever listing, minister tells TOT


TOT Plc will never list on the stock market and has been ordered to change its public company status to reflect its true function as a national utility, says Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, the Information and Communications Technology minister. ''My intention is to confirm my decision that I do not want TOT to list on the market. If the next elected government dares to proceed with a listing policy, then do it and be ready to answer questions from society,'' Mr Sitthichai said yesterday.

Mr Sitthichai yesterday ordered the state telecom enterprise to erase ''public company limited'' from the official name of TOT and rename it TOT Co Ltd.

Under market rules, a business must have public company limited status before it can offer shares to the public.

If the next government wanted TOT to become a public company, the minister said, it would have to go through the parliamentary process, which would reflect whether the public wanted such a change of not.

TOT yesterday celebrated its fifth anniversary as a public company, dating back to the time that it first announced its intention to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

The listing has since been postponed countless times. Analysts have argued that it is impossible to assess the true value of the TOT business going forward, since it relies so heavily on access charges paid by private companies under a widely criticised concession system.

TOT yesterday also announced a business plan to generate more income, including introducing new services and promotions to revive falling revenue.

As well, executives confirmed that access charges, which continue to be a matter of dispute with mobile phone operators, would not be booked as revenues in its financial statement.

Col Natee Sukolrat, TOT's deputy president, said revenue and profit in the first half of this year declined in accordance with industry trends, particularly for fixed-line service.

First half revenue fell 13% year-on-year to 25.94 billion baht. Net profit was down 36.1% to 2.86 billion baht.

Col Natee said that fixed line revenue dropped 16%, public telephone and international call revenue by 30% each, while access charges were not yet realised.

But he said that mobile service, ADSL, leased circuit and multimedia service generated more earnings.

He said TOT was determined to reverse the revenue shortfall with new offerings such as TOT Postpaid and TOT Prepaid. The two services would also help TOT cut overlaps in its payment system as it could introduce a single billing system instead, and would also support a more efficient back-office system.

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