In a statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, satellite operator Thaicom has announced that its subsidiary Shenington Investment failed to complete the sale of its shares in Cambodian telecoms operator Mfone to INT Management Service (INT). Thaicom’s board of directors approved the transfer of 24 million shares in Mfone, equivalent to a 100% stake, from Shenington to local investor INT in November 2012. Thaicom owns a 51% stake in Shenington Investment, which agreed to sell the Mfone shares to INT for USD100. However, the agreement was subject to certain conditions which both parties had to complete for the transaction to become effective, and in its stock exchange statement Thaicom said that the conditions pertaining to Mfone’s debt restructuring with creditors could not be completed within the deadline. As a result of the collapse of the sale, Mfone has filed a petition for insolvency proceedings in Phnom Penh. Thaicom said the decision ‘will have no significant adverse financial impacts on its consolidated results as the company has already provisioned for this eventuality in the first nine months of 2012, nor will the process affect the company’s standalone performance.’
Mfone has struggled to compete in Cambodia’s fiercely competitive mobile market, in which eight wireless operators compete for custom from the country’s roughly 15 million inhabitants. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the cellco has a mobile subscriber base of roughly 400,000 (down from a peak of around 950,000 at mid-2009), giving it a 2.2% market share at the end of September 2012. Thai newspaper The Nation cites Thaicom CEO Suphajee Suthumpun as saying that Mfone will continue to operate and provide services to its customers while the court is considering Mfone’s petition.