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Jasmine CEO explains subsidiary’s default on 900MHz telecom licence

Apr 05. 2016
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PETE BODHARAMIK, chief executive officer of Jasmine International, has insisted that Jas really wanted to be the fourth mobile-phone operator in Thailand.

His remark was in response to doubts on its intention to bid for a telecom licence on the 900-megahertz spectrum last December.

A working panel of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunica-tions Commission called Pete in to clarify for the first time yesterday the failure of Jasmine’s subsidiary Jas Mobile Broadband (JASMBB) to pay the initial instalment of the licence upfront fee and place a bank guarantee for the remaining payments by the March 21 deadline.

The company had bid Bt75.65 billion to win the licence.

This panel was assigned to examine how the NBTC should proceed to claim damages from JASMBB’s default.

Pete said Jas had budgeted Bt80 billion for the maximum bid, realising that there would be intense competition at the auction. After winning the bid, the company talked with Chinese telecom-equipment maker Huawei Technologies and Bangkok Bank about possible funding for the licence payment.

On January 20, the company almost clinched a loan deal with Bangkok Bank but BBL set one condition, that Pete and his father, Adisai, a former education minister, both sign personal guarantees.

Pete said he could not accept this condition as his father is very old, and he did not want him to join in the deal. That is why he stopped talking with BBL.

After that, Jas initiated talks with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which offered to help if Jas had a Chinese strategic partner. Then the company started to discuss a possible partnership deal with some Chinese companies, including China Telecom and China Unicom. The possible funding was worth around Bt10 billion.

A big investment fund supported by ICBC said it was ready to support Jas to the tune of around Bt30 billion and would hold a 49-per-cent stake in it, but the processes could not be completed by the March 21 deadline.

Pete said he always believed that he could deal with all the parties to wind things up before the deadline, and that was why he did not inform the NBTC about the firm’s fundraising progress.

Jas says it will provide all the documentation the NBTC working panel requires by April 20.

Jasmine filed to the Stock Exchange of Thailand on March 22 that JASMBB was unable to obtain the approximately Bt72-billion bank guarantee to place with the NBTC.

Jas explained that a sizeable operator in China, which was interested in investing in JASMBB and was supported by a significant commercial bank in China, was under a time constraint. Approval from relevant Chinese regulators was expected to be completed by mid-April, after the 90-day period as specified in the NBTC, and the NBTC could not extend that period, the company told the SET.

According to Jas, its legal adviser has opined that the Bt644-million deposit placed by JASMBB before the auction will be forfeited. However, JASMBB and Jas group will not be liable for any additional compensation, since the NBTC auction rules did not require that the winning bidders be responsible for anything more than the auction deposit.

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