Local banks expect yesterday's successful auction of third-generation (3G) wireless licences to lead to tens of billions of baht in new investment by mobile operators.
Apisak Tantivorawong, the president of Krung Thai Bank (KTB), said the 3G auction is "in the spotlight of all banks".
KTB, Thailand's second-largest bank by assets, expects local operators to tap the local banking system to raise funds to finance their network investments.
"KTB is ready to provide financial support for new project investment. We've been talking about this with our telecom clients," said Mr Apisak.
KTB expects loan growth of more than 100 billion baht or 10% for the entire year after booking 90 billion baht in new loans in the first nine months.
Arthid Nanthawithaya, a senior executive vice-president of Siam Commercial Bank, offered similar sentiments, saying SCB is fully prepared to offer financial assistance to its telecommunications clients.
All three bidders had to provide bank guarantees as part of the auction. Market leader Advanced Info Service presented guarantees from SCB, Kasikornbank (KBank), TMB Bank and Thanachart Bank.
Second-ranked mobile operator Total Access Communication presented a guarantee from Bangkok Bank, while True showed guarantees from SCB and KTB.
Vasin Vanichvoranun, an executive vice-president of Kasikornbank, estimated each mobile operator may spend 15-30 billion baht on its 3G network.
But it is difficult to assess credit demand from each operator, as all three have access to the bond markets, local banks or their own capital, he said.
Kasikorn Research Center estimates the launch of 3G services on the 2.1-gigahertz frequency will boost data use sharply in the coming years.
Network investment is expected to be focused on Bangkok and large provinces first, followed by a nationwide rollout later.
Overall, some 120 billion baht in infrastructure investment is projected for the mobile phone sector over the next three years.
About the author
- Writer: Somruedi Banchongduang
Position: Business Reporter