UPDATE 1-Thai Jasmine loses 4G licence after missed payment | Reuters

BANGKOK, March 21 Thailand’s Jasmine International Pcl has forfeited a 4G telecoms licence it won in an auction in December after missing the deadline for an initial payment towards the $2.1 billion fee, the industry regulator said on Monday.

BANGKOK, March 21 Thailand’s Jasmine International Pcl has forfeited a 4G telecoms licence it won in an auction in December after missing the deadline for an initial payment towards the $2.1 billion fee, the industry regulator said on Monday.

The failure to pay ended Jasmine’s hopes of entering Thailand’s competitive mobile market, which is dominated by three players — Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS), Total Access Communication Pcl (TAC) and True Move, a unit of True Corp.

Shares in those companies rallied as concerns eased that Jasmine’s entry would spark a price war in the $6.7 billion sector.

AIS closed up 3.5 percent and TAC shot up 5.6 percent. True rose nearly 2 percent, all outpacing the overall market rise of 0.77 percent higher. Jasmine also increased 2.8 percent as fears over the impact on its finances eased.

“Jasmine has no right to the 4G licence given they miss the deadline,” Settapong Malisuwan, vice-chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission told a news conference.

The company was required to make the first payment of 8 billion baht ($229.4 million) and place bank guarantees for the rest by 4:30 p.m. (0930 GMT), Settapong said.

The regulator will keep a 644 million baht guarantee Jasmine posted before the auction and seek further compensation as well as considering other penalties including examining Jasmine’s qualifications to hold existing broadband licenses, Settapong said.

Jasmine did not send a representative to meet the regulator on Monday, he said. Company executives were not available for comment on Monday.

The NBTC will discuss on Wednesday whether to hold another round of bidding for the licence. If the regulator decides to relaunch the auction, the starting price will be Jasmine’s winning bid price, Settapong said.

Jasmine’s wholly-owned unit Jas Mobile Broadband Co won the licence with a bid of 75.65 billion baht ($2.1 billion) after an auction that lasted more than 65 hours, nearly six times higher than the value the regulator placed on the spectrum.

The high winning bid raised investor concern that Jasmine would struggle to get a return on its investment.

Jasmine, valued at $732 million on the Thai bourse, made net profit of 15.7 billion baht in 2015. Analysts said that the cost of the licence and investment in the 4G network could have wiped out any profits for three years.

Jasmine is Thailand’s second largest broadband operator with 2 million subscribers. ($1 = 34.8800 baht) (Editing by Simon Webb and Keith Weir)

Source: UPDATE 1-Thai Jasmine loses 4G licence after missed payment | Reuters


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