BTS gets SEC nod for B62.5bn fund

BTS Group Holdings Plc, the skytrain operator, plans to raise up to 62.5 billion from Thailand's first infrastructure fund in the country's biggest-ever initial public offering.

The BTS Rail Mass Transit Growth Infrastructure Fund, backed by revenue from the skytrain, is offering 5.79 billion units with a price range of 10.40 to 10.80 baht each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Of the total, 3.32 billion units will be earmarked for local investors including BTS - which is required to subscribe to one-third of the total units or 1.93 billion - and the remaining 2.47 billion units will be allotted to offshore investors.

The subscription period is from March 29 to April 12.

The final price will be announced on April 5, while the unit trusts will debut on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) on April 19.

The fund launch had been delayed since last month as the SEC waited for the findings of the Department of Special Investigation.

The DSI is probing the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's contract renewal giving the BTS subsidiary Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC) operational control of the railway (excluding extensions) until 2042 and has said the soon-to-be-launched infrastructure fund has nothing to do with the case.

The SEC on Thursday gave a green light to the fund.

The fund will use the proceeds to buy rights to net fare revenue contributed by the 23.5-kilometre, non-extension skytrain route. BTSC holds the concession to operate the route until 2029.

The skytrain, consisting of 32 stations with a combined track length of 32.7 kilometres, carried 176 million passengers in the fiscal year ended last March 31, according to a Bloomberg report referencing the prospectus.

It achieved sales of 4.3 billion baht for the period, up from 3.5 billion baht a year earlier.

BTS plans to use the proceeds from its sale of the skytrain fare rights to invest in future mass transit projects and to buy a third of the fund, according to Bloomberg.

Shares of BTS closed yesterday on the SET at 9.10 baht, up 30 satang, in heavy trade worth 2.76 billion baht.

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Writer: DARANA CHUDASRI