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True confident of growth trend

Despite the expected economic slowdown, True Corp anticipates achieving high-single-digit growth in its business this year by developing value-added services for its telecom networks.

"Consumer purchasing power for telecom services and gadgets this year will not drop. Tech buffs are always willing to spend on new devices to fulfil their lifestyles," CEO Suphachai Chearavanont said last week.

True Group's business last year expanded 10 per cent, mainly driven by its 3G wireless service, he said.

Private telecoms will continue investing heavily on expanding coverage of their high-speed wireless networks and the development of appealing content to serve customers. All these factors will contribute to the telecom industry's growth this year, he said.

If the private sector keeps on investing, this would keep the economy growing. The economy this year would grow more if the plan to spend Bt2 trillion on transport infrastructure was implemented, he said. If the US and European economies improve this year, while China's remains healthy, the Thai economy should also improve, he said.

True's business ranges from pay-TV and Internet broadband to 3G and 4G cellular services. Last month the group won a commercial terrestrial digital TV licence for a variety channel and another licence for a news channel, both standard definition.

Last month the Bt58.08 billion True Telecommunications Growth Infrastructure Fund was listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The fund's top three holders are True at 33 per cent, Siam Commercial Bank at 9 per cent and Beyond Advanced at 6 per cent.

True will use some operating cashflow and part of the proceeds from the initial pubic offering of the infrastructure fund and the planned sales of some non-core businesses to reduce its debt. As of the second quarter of last year, the group's long-term debt stood at Bt97.47 billion and short-term debt at Bt9.44 billion.

True is also keen on joining the bidding for the 1800MHz spectrum expected late this year.


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