By USANEE MONGKOLPORN
THE 900MHZ licences will be put up for re-auction three months after March 21 if True Corp or Jasmine International (JAS) fails to pay the first instalment of the licence fee and provide a bank guarantee by that date, the telecom regulator said.
Both companies won telecom licences on the 900-megahertz spectrum at an auction in December, but they are struggling to clear financial hurdles. True and JAS won the auction with bids worth Bt76.298 billion and Bt75.654 billion respectively. The licences will be sold at the prices offered by the winners.
Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, said the regulator reached the re-auction decision at a meeting of the telecom committee yesterday.
He reiterated that both winners had confirmed this week that they would make the payment and provide the bank guarantee by the deadline.
He added that both also asked him this week whether it was possible to get a discount on the upfront licence fee if they paid the whole amount in one lump sum, instead of four instalments as originally required.
“I’m still confident that they will definitely make it by the deadline. One of them will pay this month,” he said. “JAS has consulted us over the past months on the procedures to develop a portability system for mobile-phone numbers and to erect telecom towers.”
According to Takorn, those failing to meet the March deadline will also be required to take financial responsibility for the cost of a new auction and the cost of the December auction.
They will also be put on a blacklist of companies banned from the next round of licence bidding. If only one winner of the December auction fails to meet the deadline, the other one that honours the agreement will be able to take part in the re-auction.
If no one takes part in the re-auction, the bid will be postponed by one year.
True’s board of directors has resolved to issue up to 15 billion shares to raise Bt60 billion. Telecom analysts believe that the company was forced by creditors to raise equity in return for a bank guarantee.
An analyst said True’s recapitalisation had negative implications for JAS, as the banks might impose the same requirement on JAS. If JAS fails to meet the deadline for the first instalment of the licence fee, he believes that True will hold off on its payment and renegotiate the licence price with the NBTC. If that happens, True is likely to put the rights issue on hold.
The analyst said that if JAS fails to meet the deadline the chance of a re-auction would be very high.