Asia news

A roundup of tower news across China, Southern and Southeast Asia

Bangladesh: New draft regulation in Bangladesh may adversely affect emerging tower industry

edotco may restructure its operations in Bangladesh if a drafted guideline for tower sharing licenses is introduced. The draft guideline states that shareholders of mobile phone operators licensed by the BTRC, local or foreign, are not eligible for a license to share towers. Many stakeholders in telecom towers have been lobbying against this proposed new law, which would adversely affect the development of the tower industry in the country.

edotco owns and operates more than 6,000 tower sites across the country and continues expanding operations. edotco is the market leader in Bangladesh with 11 customers including six mobile phone operators. Suresh Sidhu, edotco Group CEO, said: “We want to do business in Bangladesh abiding by the existing laws; if the new guideline comes into effect and prevents us from getting a licence, we will transfer our ownership from Robi to edotco.” Both Robi and Banglalink, owned by Vimpelcom, have asked that the guideline be changed so that licensed operators can continue to apply for tower sharing licenses with the aim of increasing the development and efficiency of telecoms in Bangladesh.

China: Transfer of over one million to China Tower Company to be completed soon

Analysts have said the final transfer of assets from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom to the new China Tower Company, and release of the financial details, is likely to be completed by October 2015. China Tower Company will be 40 per cent owned by China Mobile, and 30 per cent each by China Telecom and China Unicom. China Tower Company is reportedly planning to sell shares to investors with the goal of financing RMB 60bil (US$9.7bil). The company reportedly also wants to sell 20% of shares through private equity financing, and then prepare to apply for an IPO in 2017.

India: Reliance Communications nearing completion of Reliance Infratel sale

RCom is in the final stages of the sale of Reliance Infratel with four bidders reportedly remaining: Farallon Capital, Carlyle, Tillman Capital and American Tower Corporation. RCom are believed to favor bids for 100% of the equity in Reliance Infratel which would enable them to make a complete exit from the tower business and to use the funds to reduce its debt. It is reported that due diligence should be completed by the first week of October and the deal should be finalised by late October.

India: BSNL receives cabinet approval to create a new tower company

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has “in-principle” approval to spin its tower assets into a separate company, according to the Economic Times of India. BSNL is the second largest telecoms company in India and is thought to have an estimated 65,000 towers valued at Rs. 20,000 crore (US$3 billion) and is working with the Department of Telecommunications to establish a working group to organise the capital and organisational structure of the new company.

India: Bharti Infratel is looking into the acquisition of towers from Vodafone India and Idea Cellular

Bharti Infratel is reportedly in advanced talks with Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to acquire a number of tower assets for a total of US$1.6bn. According to the Business Standard Vodafone may be selling as many as 11,000-12,000 towers and Idea Cellular may be looking to divest approximately 9,000 towers. Other companies that have expressed interest in Idea Cellular’s assets include Axiata (edotco?) and American Tower Corporation.

India: Ascend Telecom plans to raise nearly US$100mn in the US

Ascend Telecom intends to raise US$100mn to fund the expansion of its footprint through a listing in the US. Ascend has approximately 4,500 towers and a tenancy ratio of 1.77. New Silk Route reportedly holds a 68% stake in Ascend Telecom while the balance is held by IL&FS and TVS Interconnect Systems, a TVS Group company.

India: American Tower Corporation expected to finalise acquisition of Viom Networks

American Tower Corporation’s on-off bid to acquire a majority stake in Viom Networks could be finalised shortly, according to reports all over the Indian press which, it should be said, has prematurely reported this deal many times before! The deal reportedly includes retention of a minority stake for the Tata Group, while The SREI Group is to exit completely. Talks on the deal began again in May 2015 after a six month pause due to issues with the valuation of Viom Network’s assets. American Tower Corporation has renewed its planned expansion in the Indian market in the wake of successful spectrum auctions in February.

Indonesia: Telkom scraps share-swap deal with PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure

PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) Tbk has called off a deal that would have given PT Tower Bersama an initial 49% stake in the state-owned company. The deal would also have given Tower Bersama shares in Telkom’s towerco PT Dayamitra Telekomunikasi (Mitratel). Telkom stated that it was terminating the transaction in response to the commissioner’s request.

Myanmar: MPT market share slips below 50%

MPT, the state-owned operator, which prior to 2014 had a monopoly on the telecoms market as its only player, has seen its market share eroded by the entry of Telenor and Ooredoo. At the end of July 2015, MPT reportedly had 14mn, with Telenor on over 10mn and Ooredoo reporting 4.3mn subscribers in Myanmar at the end of June.

Myanmar: Myanmar Investments International buys a stake in Apollo Towers

Apollo Towers raised US$30 million in equity from Myanmar Investments International Limited (MIL). Apollo has built 1,100 towers for Telenor since the rollout began in July last year, and is contracted to build a total of 1,827 so far.

Myanmar: Telenor’s Myanmar footprint has reached 50% coverage

Telenor has expanded its network footprint to more than 2,700 sites, covering over 50% of populated areas across Myanmar, including Dawei in the Tanintharyi Division, giving the MNO coverage of 13 major areas. The Norwegian-backed operator now offers mobile connectivity in Mandalay, Yangon, Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Ayeyarwaddy, Kayin, Mon, Kachin, Shan, Kayah, Nay Pyi Taw and Tanintharyi. The company is expected to rollout between 3,500 and 4,000 towers by the end of 2015.

Myanmar: Seventeen Myanmar firms interested in joining fourth license consortium

Seventeen local Myanmar firms have applied to join a consortium to operate the country’s fourth mobile network, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Candidate companies must have 3 billion kyat (US$2.4mn) in capital and need to have been in operation for at least three months. The successful candidates were announced in September. After the local firms are selected, a foreign partner will be selected for the joint venture.

Pakistan and Bangladesh: VimpelCom tower sales in Pakistan and Bangladesh progress

The first round of bidding on ~6,000 towers belonging to VimpelCom’s Bangladeshi opco Bangalink is complete. Bangalink owns around 22% of Bangaldesh’s ~27,000 towers, and has just over 25% mobile market share. Meanwhile, VimpelCom’s tower divestiture in Pakistan is more advanced, with shortlisted bidders being informed. VimpelCom’s Mobilink is the mobile market leader in Pakistan, a country with around 28,000 towers.

Sri Lanka: Google to deploy high-speed internet by balloon in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the first country to register for Google’s Project Loon, which will deploy high-altitude balloons to provide affordable high-speed internet across the whole island. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka met with Project Loon head Michael Cassidy in Sri Lanka, and stated that the balloons are expected to be launched by March 2016.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh: Bharti Airtel weighing options in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

There has been speculation that Bharti Airtel is looking at selling its 2,500 towers in Sri Lanka and 4,000 towers in Bangladesh to cut down on less productive operations. Bharti Airtel maintains that they are evaluating opportunities and there is nothing to report at this time.

Thailand: Infrastructure sharing agreement reached between DTAC and AIS

Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) and Advanced Info Service (AIS) have agreed to share 2,000 towers this year to cut costs and expand network coverage to keep up with demand for mobile broadband. DTAC has also reached agreement with CAT Telecom to create a joint venture to manage shared telecoms towers and fibre. DTAC and CAT Telecom will have a 51% and 49% stake in both Tower JV Co and Fibre JV Co.

Thailand: Auction of two 900MHz licenses set to take place on 15 December 2015

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has approved the auction of two technology-neutral 900MHZ licenses. This auction was originally going to be postponed to avoid clashing with an upcoming 1800MHz 4G auction scheduled for 11 November but will continue as planned. Successful candidates will be required to deploy 4G networks and achieve 50% coverage of the population by the end of 2019.

Leave a Reply