Thai 4G auction winner excluded after payment failure

22 March 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Jasmine International, one of the two winners in Thailand’s December 2015 spectrum auction, has lost its place after failing to make an initial payment.

The company bid $2.1 billion for the spectrum in the 900 MHz band, due to be used for 4G services. But it has now lost its chance of a licence after failing to persuade investors to fund the bid.

Jasmine’s shares on the Bangkok stock exchange were suspended while those of rival companies – AIS, Telenor-controlled DTAC and True – all gained.

Because it failed to make the stage payment, Jasmine also forfeits a $18 million deposit it put down during the auction, which saw it and True bid a total of $4.2 billion. Jasmine used the auction to try to become the fourth operator in the Thai market.

Reports suggested Jasmine was expecting investment from China and South Korea, but added that investors were dismayed by the size of the auction prices. The December bids were nearly six times higher than were expected for the value of the spectrum and almost double the winning bids in a previous auction.

The Thai government was hoping to use the funds for infrastructure projects. The auctions had already been delayed by a military coup d’état in 2014.

Now a new auction will be needed, Takorn Tantasit, secretary-general of Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, told reporters. “The time for payment has expired.”

Jasmine, which was not commenting on its failure to pay, says on its website that it “owns telecom networks, various products and services covering a full range of communications including broadband internet, satellite-based communication, local and international telephone service, digital content, e-commerce”.

The company says that 25% of its shares are owned by Pete Bodharamik, CEO since 2008.