True secures $1bn backing from China for 4G
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) will issue a $1 billion guarantee for True to pay for the 4G Thai network spectrum license it gained in December.
In total, the Thai mobile carrier has secured $2 billion of loan guarantees, with ICBC Thai funding half the amount, with the rest guaranteed by Krung Thai Bank ($112mn), Bangkok Bank ($295mn), Siam Commercial Bank ($295mn), Kasikornbank ($295mn) and Kiatnakin Bank ($84mn).
After True signed letters of guarantee with six banks for Bt73.04 billion, Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of True Group, commented on the 900MHz license: "We plan to pay the first instalment and place bank guarantees in two weeks."
Commenting on the guarantees, Li Zhigang, chairman of ICBC Thai, said the deal represented one of the state-owned bank’s largest deals in Thailand. "We are confident that True will be able to make profit out of the new licenses," Zhigang said.
True had planned to invest $1.1 billion expanding its networks this year, but this week Chearavanont revealed plans to invest $1.6 billion over the next three years to increase its market share of mobile coverage on all frequencies.
Of the 2016 budget, roughly $1 billion will be spent on expanding the 900MHz network with the rest invested in adding 3,000 base stations to its current 22,000 base stations for the 1,800MHz and 2.1GHz networks this year.