Nation Group raising Bt2 bn for digital TV
NMG's 2012 profit jumps 87%, set to be a 'game changer'Nation Group's three companies will mobilise more than Bt2 billion in new funds to participate in the country's first digital TV auction, and to finance new expansions that will position the group as a "game changer" in the fast developing media landscape.
Nation Multimedia Group Plc (NMG), Nation Broadcasting Corporation Plc (NBC) and Nation International Edutainment Plc (NINE) have notified the Stock Exchange of Thailand of their respective recapitalisation plans, which will see new shares and warrants issued.
NMG, the group's parent company, also announced an 87-per-cent jump in the 2012 net profit to Bt191.3 million. Revenue last year rose 11 per cent to Bt3.1 billion.
Suthichai Yoon, NMG's chairman, said in a statement that the group plans to bid for digital TV licences which the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is scheduled to roll out in the next few months as part of the liberalisation of the airwaves.
NMG will bid for a 'variety' channel, NBC for a 'news' channel and NINE for a 'kids' channel, said Suthichai, who also noted that NBTC has yet to announce precise terms and conditions on this historic move.
"We are preparing for all possible options. The game is changing and we intend to be one of the game changers," he said.
In preparing for the new media landscape, Nation Multimedia Group Plc's board of directors approved at a meeting last Friday to raise capital to 3,377 million shares (par Bt0.53). A total 1,647.74 million new shares will be issued to existing shareholders at the ratio of one current share to one new share, at a price of Bt1. At full subscription, this means fresh capital of Bt1.65 billion.
New share subscribers will also be offered one 5-year warrant per one new share, priced at Bt1. To strengthen the group's human resources through new incentives, a 5-year employee stock option scheme (ESOP) will be launched to offer shares to employees at Bt1 apiece. The plan is subject to the approval of shareholders, who will convene on April 25.
Meanwhile, MAI-listed Nation Broadcasting Corporation Plc's board of directors last Friday approved raising capital to 541 million shares by selling 353.74 million new shares to existing shareholders at a ratio of one old share to two new shares, at Bt3 apiece. This will mean fresh capital of Bt1.06 billion at full subscription. New share subscribers are also offered one 5-year warrant for every two new shares invested, with an exercise price of Bt3 apiece. Likewise, employees are entitled to a 5-year ESOP program, but at Bt3 apiece.
Meanwhile, MAI-listed Nation International Edutainment Plc's board of directors approved raising capital to 174.25 million shares. A total 85 million new shares are issued to existing shareholders at a 1:1 ratio for Bt4 apiece. This will generate fresh funds of Bt340 million. Each new share subscriber is offered one 5-year warrant to one share subscribed, with an exercise price of Bt4. Employees of NINE are also entitled to a 5-year ESOP program, able to buy shares at Bt4 apiece. In total, the three companies will mobilise up to Bt2.1 billion, the biggest fund mobilisation by the 42-year-old Thai media group.
Duangkamol Chotana, president of the Nation Multimedia Group Plc, said NMG stands ready to support capital increases by its two other listed subsidiaries to the full. With extensive experience and expertise in both print and broadcast media the group aims to play a role in the new media landscape that will be reshaped by the launch of digital television. NBTC plans to issue licenses for as many as 48 digital TV channels through a bidding process.
"Digital TV is the new big thing that everyone in the broadcast industry has been waiting for. It marks the turning point of the television industry, ending more than four decades of state monopoly of the airwaves. Nation Group is ready to join the new playing field," she said.
Sermsin Samalapa, NMG's vice chairman, expressed confidence that the three listed Nation Group companies will perform well and provide good returns to long-term shareholders. The Nation Group currently operates 5 satellite and cable TV stations - Nation Channel, Krungthep Turakij TV, Kom Chad Luek TV, Kid's Zone and Rama Channel.
Adisak Limprungpatanakij, president of Nation Broadcasting Corporation, said the group's broad range of content, from news and current affairs to children and family programmes, demonstrate its potential to move into free digital TV both as operator and content provider.
The NBTC has yet to decide on the auction criteria and the limit on cross-holdings of digital commercial TV channels that will be offered in three categories - news and current affairs, variety, and children and family programs. Adisak reaffirmed that as long as the bidding process is fair the group has the needed funds, as well as the editorial and technical expertise to operate any categories of the new digital TV channels.
Sivaporn Chomsuwan, president of NINE, said the initial launch of Kid Zone satellite TV has been enormously successful and the digital TV bid would put the channel on a firm footing in line with Thailand's needs for quality TV content for young audiences.
Nation Group will hold an open-house session at 2pm tomorrow for stock analysts and investors to ask questions about the group's media landscape and the plan to invest in new digital TV. The question-and-answer session will be held at Nation Group headquarters at KM 4.5 on Bang Na-Trat Road. Reservations can be made at 02-338 3291-2.