Jasmine Mobile Broadband has put the blame on its inability to secure funding for the 900-MHz licence it won in December on what it called inappropriate demands from Bangkok Bank that led to a breakdown in negotiations.
Jasmine CEO Pete Bodharamik gave testimony on 5 April at an NBTC fact-finding committee set up to ascertain the damages of Jas’ default on its $2.14 billion (75.65 billion baht) license fee.
Pete said that Bangkok Bank had made unreasonable demands asking for his father, Adisai Bodharamik, to personally guarantee the loan. He stressed that this was a new requirement that was not agreed on prior to the bid. Pete said his father was old and retired and that he did not want to drag him into this.
He said that negotiations with Bangkok Bank broke down on 20 January and then he turned to Chinese partners China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom along with vendor ZTE for funding. He said that a deal had been reached but blamed Chinese banking regulations for not being able to make the 21 March deadline. Pete said the best he could do was mid-April.
Pete said that he hoped the NBTC would consider 3BB fixed-line and Mono TV as separate entities and thus the two should not be punished for Jas mobile broadband’s default.
He insisted that the price paid was not excessive and that a business model around it was feasible. In fact, Jas had budgeted up to 80 billion baht for the spectrum.
He also brushed aside any suggestion of irregularity in approving a shareholder dividend of 0.03 baht and a share buyback of $170 million (6 billion baht) of Jasmine International PLC (Jas Mobile Broadband’s parent company) as something that could be done without affecting the 900-MHz business plan.