ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
3G delay puts off investors
Foreign investors continue to cut back their holdings in local telecommunication stocks because of uncertainties about the business outlook as long as commercial 3G services are delayed, an analysts said.
Mr. Kitpon Kitpon Pripisankit, vice-president of Kasikorn Securities.said the telecom sector's value had fallen to 12 percent of total Stock Exchange of Thailand capitalisation from 20 percent earlier, as both foreign and retail investors steadily reduced their positions. The industry this year is expected to continue to grow but at a slower pace of 3-4 percent compared with 8 percent last year. However, data services are likely to grow by 15-17 percent compared with 10 percent last year, he added.
Bids for 3G licences must await the formation of a new regulator, possibly later this year. However, the top three mobile players True Move, DTAC and Advanced Info Service are offering limited non-commercial trial services in Greater Bangkok.
"True Move will be able to offer even better services to cover wider areas including Greater Bangkok and central province, after the acquisition of Hutch,'' said Mr. Kitpon, referring to the small operator in which the state enterprise CAT Telecom is a partner.
Mr. Kitpon said investors had been underweight on telecom stocks since the 3G auction collapsed last year, though operators' cash flow now exceeded their net profits as they were hesitant to commit to large new investments.
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