BTS Group buys 46 trains for B11bn
Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), a subsidiary of BTS Group Holding Plc, which runs the skytrain in Bangkok, has signed a contract to buy 46 new trains worth 11 billion baht from Siemens AG and CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, says BTS Group chairman Keeree Kanjanapas.
The contract provides 46 trains from the two firms, with four cars per train, to be used for the Green Line extension.
Siemens AG, a Germany-based train and turbine maker, will supply 22 trains, while CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co, a Chinese producer of mass transit vehicles, will supply 24 trains.
Mr Keeree said the company made the purchase to prepare for increased passenger traffic on both the existing Green Line, which runs above Sukhumvit Road, and the extension into Samut Prakan.
BTS operates 52 trains for the current Green Line, which has a length of 36.25 kilometres.
"With these new trains, we will be able to operate the skytrain comfortably for the next 10 years," said Mr Keeree.
He said the 11 billion baht would come from the company's cash flow and loans.
BTSC plans to join all the bids for government mass transit projects, including the upcoming Pink and Orange lines, in the form of public-private partnership (PPP), said Mr Keeree.
Surayut Thavikulwat, chief financial officer for BTS Group, said the company has a healthy financial position with a strong cash flow to invest in upcoming mass transit projects.
"BTS is in a very strong financial position with 12 billion baht worth of cash on hand and a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28," he said.
Mr Surayut said many financial institutions have offered it loans for business expansion. The group is also considering issuing a debenture to capitalise on the low interest rate, but he would not provide details of such a move.
He said for fiscal 2015 ending in March, the company's mass transit business performed well with 6.3% growth of passengers per day.
For next year, BTS Group targets a 20% increase in top-line revenue, said Mr Surayut.
He said BTS expects a 6% increase in passengers from 600,000 per day and a 50% spike in revenue from its media business, mainly from its plan to acquire an additional stake in SET-listed Master Ad Plc (MACO).
Mr Surayut said SET-listed VGI Global Media Plc, under the BTS Group, clinched a deal to acquire another 12.46% of MACO. The move would put its total stake in VGI at 37.42%.
The deal, which is expected to be finalised at the end of May, is part of VGI's strategy to diversify into the digital media platform.
Recently Fitch Ratings (Thailand) assigned an A(tha) national long-term rating to BTS Group Holdings with a stable outlook, citing strong operations in Bangkok and hefty income from its ad business.