Key telecoms firms among the two losing consortiums bidding for a fixed-line local and international licence in Singapore have given detailed reactions to the decision. A consortium involving two local companies, British Telecom and Japan's NTT was chosen as the only competitor to Singapore Telecommunications when the market is opened on April 1, 2000. When it invited bids, the Singapore Government said there could well be two licences. US emerging giant WorldCom, which joined with Singapore Mass Transit and Sembawang to bid, said the decision to award just one licence was a throwback to 1980s regulatory thinking, creating duopolies. 'It's a great shame for Singapore; deep down I think it was the wrong decision,' said Steve Liddell, WorldCom's Asia Pacific president. ING Barings analyst Gautam Kapoor, who is based in Singapore, said he thought the government had awarded only one licence because it wanted to make sure the consortium could see a return on its capital and therefore would have an incentive to invest in infrastructure. But Mr Liddell said that what made regulatory 'good sense' was to let the companies themselves decide the return was good enough. Hongkong Telecom and parent Cable & Wireless (C&W) also bid as part of the TelecomOne consortium. They had 16 per cent each of the venture. Speaking this week, Hongkong Telecom chief executive Linus Cheung Wing-lam said that he was 'not disappointed at all' to lose the bid. He said this was not because of 'sour grapes' but was 'simply because of a change of conditions', referring to the fact that since putting in its bid, Telecom had agreed to early termination of its own international monopoly. Mr Cheung said this had changed the calculations on which it had based its Singapore business case. C&W chief executive Richard Brown, who is also chairman of Hongkong Telecom, said Singapore represented a very important market for C&W. 'We are not deterred one bit by events and will redouble our efforts,' he said. The Singapore Government has left open the option of adding another fixed licence at a later date.