Is Consistel winning the race to raise funds for Singapore spectrum auction?

10 Jun 2016

An unconfirmed report from Singapore Business Review claims that MyRepublic’s bid for the city-state’s fourth mobile licence award is possibly foundering as its struggles to raise the funds it needs to compete at the forthcoming spectrum auction, allowing its main rival Consistel to gain ground. A report published by Maybank Kim Eng notes that both would-be mobile network operators (MNOs) are racing to put together their war chests ahead of the auction of spectrum in the third quarter of this year, with the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) likely to make announcements this month about the pre-qualification process. Consistel is reportedly close to reaching its SGD1 billion (USD296 million) funding goal; in March this year CommsUpdate reported that Consistel’s telecoms vehicle OMGTEL had secured commitments for SGD400 million of the total – from a mix of term loans and equity – and it hopes to confirm the remainder by end-June. Further, Maybank Kim Eng says ‘its sources indicate that Consistel may be getting vendor support from equipment suppliers’.

In contrast, MyRepublic’s efforts to raise funds for its own bid are facing an uphill battle. In February/March this year it turned up the heat in its quest to become a big hitter in the domestic mobile market, by tapping up international investment banks Goldman Sachs and DBS Group Holdings to help it raise SGD250 million to support its bid to become the city-state’s fourth mobile carrier. MyRepublic is backed by French billionaire Xavier Niel and Indonesia’s Sinar Mas Group, and intends to offer a mobile broadband plan costing as little as SGD8 per month for 2GB of data, should it become the fourth carrier. Local reports suggest though, that despite its assertion that it intended to complete a SGD250 million funding round in April 2016, to date there has been no news of further progress.

The IDA confirmed in February its plan to sell off 235MHz of spectrum in Q3 2016; 60MHz of bandwidth in the 900MHz and 2300MHz bands will be sold to a new entrant, ahead of a general sale for the incumbents Singapore Telecommunications, M1 and StarHub. The award of licences is expected to follow in April 2017.