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Thai True up as govt opens way for CDMA takeover

BANGKOK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - The Thai cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal by state-owned CAT Telecom Pcl to cancel a plan to buy a local CDMA mobile phone business from Hutchinson Telecommunications International Ltd 0215.HK.

The news sent shares in True Corp Pcl TRUE.BK, which owns Thailand's third-biggest mobile operator, True Move, up more than 5 percent as it opens the way for True Move to buy the Hong Kong company's CDMA business in Thailand.

“This news, in our view, brings True closer to acquiring Hutch and becoming the only nationwide 3G service provider,” Kasikorn Securities said in a note.

By the midsession break, True shares were up 4.6 percent at 6.85 baht after rising as high as 6.90 baht earlier, far outperforming the 0.03 percent rise in the main index .SETI.

True has risen 43 percent in the past three months on speculation that buying the CDMA business could speed up the rollout of lucrative and long-delayed 3G data services in Thailand.

Information and Communications Technology Minister Chuti Krairiksh said the cancellation would help the government save 7.5 billion baht.

Hutchison-CAT Wireless Multimedia Co, a joint venture between Hutchison and CAT Telecom Pcl, operates a CDMA (code division multiple access) mobile network that has a small market share in Thailand.

CAT Telecom owns 25 percent of the joint venture, with the rest owned by Hutchison. The service covers 25 central provinces in Thailand over a network leased from BFKT, a subsidiary of Hutchison Telecom. (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and Chalathip Thirasoonthrakul; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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