Thailand fast-tracks 900MHz re-auction at $2.1bn starting price

31 March 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


The government of Thailand has told the country’s regulator that it must sell its 900 MHz spectrum at a price that is at least what Jasmine International offered in December – but then failed to pay for.

Jasmine was one of two winners for the spectrum in an auction in late 2015, bidding the equivalent of $2.1 billion. But it failed to raise the sum from backers and missed the payment deadline and so forfeited the spectrum and lost an $18 million deposit.

Rival operator True also bid $2.1 billion and succeeded in raising the money from bank loans.

Now the country’s deputy prime minister, Wissanu Krea-ngam, has told the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission that it must re-auction the spectrum within a year for a price that is no less than Jasmine’s bid in December 2015.

If the re-auction fails to raise the $2.1 billion, Jasmine will be responsible for the shortfall, he said.

The NBTC’s secretary-general, Takorn Tantasit, earlier said that a re-auction would start within four months, with a price starting at Jasmine’s $2.1 billion and with a higher deposit of 10-30% of the price.

The NBTC will offer draft rules for public consultation from mid-April and will publish the final rules at the end of May.

True will be allowed to bid for the spectrum, even though it won one of the blocks in the December auction. The company announced at the start of March that it has secured $2 billion worth of loan guarantees, with half of it coming from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

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.