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Announcement:

Moody's: Auction of 3G licenses positive, but no impact on True Corp and True Move's ratings

22 Oct 2012

Singapore, October 22, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service says that True Corporation Public Company Limited's ("True Corp") successful bid for three lots of spectrum bandwidth under the 2.1GHz auction is positive, but has no impact on True Corp and True Move Company Ltd's ("True Move") B2 ratings and stable outlooks.

On 19th October, True Corp confirmed that its 99.99% owned subsidiary, Real Future Company Limited ("Real Future"), had successfully bid for three lots of spectrum bandwidth for a total bid price of THB13.5 billion. However, before being officially awarded the license to operate 2.1GHz, Real Future is required to fulfill certain conditions precedent set by National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission ("NBTC"), the Thai telecom regulator, within 90 days of receiving the official auction result.

"Completion of the 3G spectrum auction is positive following years of protracted regulatory uncertainty in Thailand. However, uncertainty continues around the auction format and pricing which could be challenged in court. The conclusion of the auction process and award of licenses, which could take up to 90 days, will help alleviate some of the uncertainty regarding True's 3G strategy," says Nidhi Dhruv, a Moody's Analyst and also Lead Analyst for True Corp and True Move.

Issuance of the 3G licenses under the current format and prices will be credit positive for True Corp, as it will bring certainty to True Corp's operating platform ahead of the expiration of its existing 1800MHz concession agreement with CAT in September 2013; its 850MHz 3G reseller agreement with CAT also needs to be renegotiated as a result of regulatory scrutiny.

"True Corp has enjoyed an early mover advantage in its current 3G services under "TrueMoveH" which had 2.0 million subscribers as of June 2012. However, a level playing field now exists on which all three operators have equal allocations of 3G 2.1 GHz spectrum. This is likely to lead to intense competition in 3G services as operators jockey for position which will test True Corp's execution strategy," adds Dhruv.

"We expect the spectrum payments to be primarily funded through bank debt, which will result in increased leverage over the near-term on a consolidated basis for True Group, but note this can be accommodated in the current stable outlook given the regulatory and operating certainty provided," says Dhruv.

Moody's also notes that the cumulative license fees for the 2.1GHz licenses at 5.75% are much lower than the 30% revenue sharing arrangements under True Move's existing concession agreement and the cost-plus arrangement under Real Move's contracts with CAT. The lower fees should support operating margins and help in moderate de-leveraging at the True Corp level over the next 2-3 years.

Nonetheless, the B2 ratings continue to encapsulate True Move and True Corp's exposure to an evolving and politicized regulatory environment. Moody's also continues to remain concerned about execution risks for the HSPA 3G upgrade, the migration of subscribers from the CDMA network to the new HSPA platform and True Corp's competitive strategy for rolling out 3G services under the 2.1GHz spectrum.

The principal methodology used in this rating was Global Telecommunications Industry, published in December 2010. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

Headquartered in Bangkok, True Corp is an integrated provider of fixed-line, broadband, internet, and mobile services, and pay TV. True Corp is listed on the Thai Stock Exchange; the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) is the major shareholder (64.26%). Its wireless business is conducted predominantly through its 99.99% subsidiary, Real Future (unrated) and 97.95%-owned subsidiary, True Move (B2 stable), which together position it as Thailand's third largest mobile telecommunications operator.

Nidhi Dhruv
Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Laura Acres
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Moody's: Auction of 3G licenses positive, but no impact on True Corp and True Move's ratings
No Related Data.
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