Investors tapped for telecoms upgrade

Economy April 11, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

THE Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (DIF) will raise its registered capital to Bt53.237 billion through a public offering of 3.831 billion units as a means of financing its third round of investment in telecommunications infrastructure in the face of rising Internet usage.



Smith Banomyong, chief executive officer of Siam Commercial Bank Asset Management and the DIF’s manager, said that the planned investment would help develop the country's telecommunications infrastructure to cope with the increased demand for data services – driven by smartphones – after a shift to the 4G LTE network, ahead of a transition to 5G services.

The move fits with the country’s technological shift under the government's Thailand 4.0 policy and forms part of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society's digital economic system development. This plan will see the broadband network developed so that it can reach a target of extending access to at least 95 per cent of the population by 2021. Currently, just 27 per cent of the population have access to the broadband network.

Veena Lertnimitr, executive vice president at Siam Commercial Bank, which acts as DIF's sole global coordinator, said the Securities and Exchange Commission had given the green light to the offering of DIF units. The price will be set in a range of Bt13.60-Bt13.90 each and the units will be offered to existing unit holders and the public.

For those with existing DIF units, they can receive one new unit for around 2.0911 existing units.

 The public offering will be made through a small lot first.

The proceeds will be used to finance rights for 2,589 telecommunications towers for mobile phones; rights for 252,006 core-kilometres of fibre optic cable (FOC) for mobile phone services in the provinces; rights for 117,871 core-kilometres of FOC for mobile phone and Internet services in Bangkok and surrounding areas; rights for 220,428 core-kilometres of FOC in the FTTx system for Internet and broadband Internet in the provinces; and a lease of about 30 years for 619,986 core-kilometres of FOC in the FTTx system for Internet and broadband services in Bangkok and nearby areas.

 A call option for FOC in the FTTx system will also be included with an exercise price for FOC rights at about Bt1.3 billion.

Prasert Deejongkit, senior vice president at Bangkok Bank, which acts as DIF's local underwriter, said that the existing DIF unit holders would be able to subscribe to the new DIF units from May 2-8 and the public from May 2-11.

The final offering price will be set after a book-building process with institutional investors, expected on May 14.

Ekkapob Makeguljai, senior vice president at Krungthai Bank, said that after the DIF's third investment, the fund will have rights for net income from 15,271 telecommunications towers, rights for net income from more than 2.6 core-kilometres of FOC and rights for 1.2 million ports in the broadband system in the provinces.

In addition, the DIF will have a longer average lease at about 20 years and, as a result, realise income over a longer period, he said.