Thaicom approves sale of Mfone to local investor; eyes listing of Lao unit

19 Nov 2012

The board of directors of satellite operator Thaicom has approved the transfer of 24 million shares in Cambodia mobile operator Mfone, equivalent to a 100% stake, from subsidiary Shenington Investment to local investor INT Management Service (INT). Thaicom owns a 51% stake in Shenington Investment, which sold the Mfone shares to INT for USD100. The value of the transaction is equal to the enterprise value of Mfone, calculated at USD98.44 million, net of all debts of the Cambodian operator. The agreement includes certain conditions which must be met by both sides within 60 days. ‘The agreement is now signed, and we are certain that the conditions in the agreement will be met before the end of the year,’ stated Suphajee Suthumpun, chairman of the Executive Committee and CEO of Thaicom, adding: ‘The completion of this deal means that next year, we will not be hit with an average quarterly loss of THB130 million (USD4.2 million) from Mfone, and the provision will not impact our standalone performance.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Mfone competes with seven other players in Cambodia’s fiercely competitive mobile market; at the end of June 2012 the cellco had a wireless subscriber base of roughly 400,000 (down from around 550,000 a year earlier), giving it a 2.4% market share.

In other news, Thai newspaper The Nation reports that Thaicom has conducted a feasibility study on the possibility of listing Lao Telecommunications Company (LTC) on both the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the Lao Securities Exchange on a dual-listing basis. The newspaper cites Suthumpun as saying that the plan would be made clearer in the first half of next year; the satellite operator has to consult with the Lao government, which owns a 51% stake in LTC, before making a final decision. Amid tough competition and weak business growth prospects, Thaicom last year said that it was considering exiting its operations in Cambodia and Laos, as poor financial results were negatively offsetting the steadily improving performance of its satellite business.

Cambodia, Laos, Lao Telecommunications Company (LTC), Mfone (formerly Camshin), Thaicom (formerly ShinSat)