True Corp announces alliance with China Mobile

Corporate June 10, 2014 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

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True Corp group has announced an alliance with China Mobile to strengthen its business and recapitalise its financial position through a private placement of about Bt28.6 billion, equivalent to 18 per cent of total shares, and a rights offering to existin

Currently Charoen Pokphand group owns around 60 per cent of True Corp, whose businesses range from mobile- and fixed-telephone services to broadband Internet and pay television. 
After the deal with China Mobile, CP’s stake will be diluted to around 49 per cent. China Mobile will become the second-largest shareholder at 18 per cent.
Noppadol Dej-Udom, group chief financial officer of True Corporation, said the company would seek approval from its shareholders on July 25 for its recapitalisation, which amounts to about Bt65 billion. 
The recapitalisation plan involves the sale of new shares worth around Bt28.6 billion in a private placement to China Mobile.
 At the same time, True will make a rights offering of about Bt36.4 billion comprising 5,648,285,818 shares to existing shareholders in the ratio of 2.5725 existing shares to 1 new share. 
The price of the rights issue will be set at Bt6.45 per share, which is the same price paid by China Mobile through the private placement. 
According to True, this recapitalisation will create investment opportunities for the company in new technologies, which will help elevate the country to the forefront of the global telecom industry.
Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman and chief executive of CP Group and chairman of True Corp, said True Group was honoured to welcome China Mobile as a strategic partner. 
In the event that there are unsubscribed shares from the rights offering, CP Group, as True’s principal shareholder, will readily purchase the unsubscribed shares to complete the total amount of the rights offering by considering various means that are suitable to support this.
Li Yue, CEO of China Mobile, said: “China Mobile has been expanding internationally and is seeking overseas strategic investment opportunities to further develop its international operations. 
Thailand and China enjoy strong economic and trade connections, and the investment environment in Thailand is very friendly. “True Group is the ideal partner in Thailand as evidenced by its leadership in the broadband and cable TV industry as well as its leading position in the 3G and 4G mobile business amidst the fierce competition in the Thai telecommunications sector.” 
China Mobile says it views True Group’s unique convergence business strategy and long-term vision as having strong potential to bring about long-term growth in profitability. 
Through the proposed strategic investment in True Corp, China Mobile expects to access new customers, international business opportunities and new earnings growth drivers, which is of great significance to the telecom business of the company. It also represents a major initiative by the company in enhancing its international presence, achieving strategic transformation and promoting reform and innovation, it says.
A telecom analyst said the partnership would help True with its financing, since its net gearing has reached 1,051 per cent. 
The new partner and new capital would help True with new investment projects, including its plan to enter the upcoming licence auctions for the 1,800-megahertz spectrum in August and for 900MHz in November.
True group has 23.1 million subscribers to its mobile-phone service.
Supachai Chearavanont, president and CEO of True, said the group had achieved another important milestone via a strategic partnership with China Mobile to enhance its competitiveness as well as strengthen its financial standing, paving the way to sustainable growth. 
“The strategic partnership will help reduce True’s overall debt burden as well as strengthen its financial status, which will lead to a significant change that will transform us into a profitable company.”
China Mobile has a subscriber base of nearly 800 million and the largest mobile-communications network globally. It has been listed on the Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges. 
The True board of directors discussed the recapitalisation plan yesterday at a special meeting. 
The company requested that the Stock Exchange of Thailand order a halt to trading of its securities on a temporary basis for the afternoon period. 
It said a board meeting was going to be held to make decisions on significant matters that would affect the decisions of investors trading the company’s shares.
The board yesterday resolved to propose to the shareholders’ meeting that they approve the company’s recapitalisation plan.