True Corp, which owns Thailand’s third-largest mobile operator, is to buy the local CDMA business of Hutchison Telecommunications International along with related companies. The move will give True Move, the True Corp-owned mobile operator, access to additional frequencies that will speed up its rollout of a 3G network. Under the terms of the deal, True’s Real Move unit will buy 92.5 percent of Hutchison Wireless Multimedia Holdings for THB4.35 million (US$144,000), the company said in a statement to the Bangkok stock exchange. Real Move and Real Future, another True unit, will also acquire another three related companies, including network provider BFKT, for 1 baht each. Real Future will also loan up to THB6.3 billion to BFKT to help repay its debts.

Grabbing Hutch’s CDMA frequencies will enable True Move to become Thailand’s only nationwide 3G operator. True Move’s current 2G licence expires in 2013 and auctions for 3G frequencies in 2.1GHz spectrum in Thailand have been delayed. The Hutch deal would mean True leapfrogs that particular roadblock. A deal for Hutch’s local CDMA business has been mooted for some months. Back in November, True Corp’s CEO Supachai Chearavanont said negotiations over the acquisition had started with Hutch but no price settled on. The operator has also made clear its ambition to drive forward its 3G rollout. Late last year, Chearavanont said True plans to invest up to THB4 billion annually between 2011 and 2013 to expand its network.