After weeks of frenzied speculation following the sky-high 900-MHz auction on December 15, the banks have spoken and things are not looking too good for new entrant Jasmine.
CEO of Bangkok Bank Chartsiri Sophonpanich said that Jasmine’s loan still has not been approved and that the bank is still considering whether to grant it while Siam Commercial Bank’s CEO Arthid Nanthawithaya said that the bank’s board had approved TrueMove’s loan but that it exceeded Bank of Thailand lending limits and thus the bank has written to the BOT to ask for special dispensation in this case.
Jasmine and TrueMove bid $2.125 billion (75,654 million baht) and $2.144 billion (76,298 million baht) respectively for 10 MHz of 900-MHz spectrum on December 15 in a marathon 66-hour auction. The first instalment of 8,040 million baht was due between 15 to 90 days of the auction winners being declared or up to 21 March 2016. Neither of the two telcos have yet paid. TrueMove has said its shareholders have ordered the management to pay on an auspicious date while Jas has been quiet.
This has led to frenzied speculation with regulators speaking up and contradicting one another in the media about whether Jas’ licence should be offered to runner-up AIS or if there would be a re-run of the auction and at what reserve price.
Meanwhile, True has announced it would be increasing its capital by $1.68 billion (60 billion baht) though a rights offering to finance its continued 4G rollout with eyes on getting the number one spot in Thailand. This board decision has to be ratified by the shareholder AGM and the exact price will be the average of the price 20 to 5 days before the AGM on 8 April less 10%.
Elsewhere, AIS has slashed prices by almost two thirds, launching new packages sparking a severe price war in the Thai market and Dtac followed suit with similar price cuts one day later.
For example AIS’ largest data package now offers 75GB for $53 (1,888 baht) though only 15 GB of that is at full speed. Dtac has countered with an 80GB package for $56 (1,999 baht) which is actually unlimited with any excess at 384Kbps.
In contrast TrueMove has yet to reduce its prices to match the other two, but its current largest package currently stands at just 10GB at $36 (1,299 Baht) or almost 2.9 times higher.