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S'pore govt not opposed to telecom alliances

The authorities will not stand in the way of telephone companies that want to merge or enter into partnerships, "as long as the consolidation does not lead to anti-competitive situations", said Minister for Communications and IT Yeo Cheow Tong.

SINGAPORE--The authorities will not stand in the way of telephone companies that want to merge or enter into partnerships.

"As long as the consolidation does not lead to anti-competitive situations, we won't object," Minister for Communications and IT Yeo Cheow Tong told reporters yesterday.

The recent attempt by Singapore Telecoms Ltd to take over the country's second mobile operator, M1, however, might have fallen into the anti-competitive category. The plan, which would have given SingTel 90 percent of the local mobile market, was abandoned, and analysts put it down to pressure from the authorities.

However, Singapore, which liberalized its telecommunications sector last April, is moving with the times.

"We're moving from the black-and-white days where you see someone as just a competitor or partner, SingTel CEO Lee Hsien Yang told Bloomberg. "The relationships are more complex, as one of the features going forward is to form narrower partnerships."

"We'll let the market fight it out," Yeo said. Eventually, "market forces will ensure that those with viable, competitive services will survive".