Business News from Around the Southeast Asian Region
Investment in the telecom sector has grown markedly in the past year as operators take advantage of what is a rapidly expanding market, driving growth in the overall economy.
The government opened up the mobile segment in 2014 and this has led to a boom in phone ownership and subscriptions in the country, with around 18 million SIM cards in circulation, which is equal to 33 percent of the population. That equates to just one million cards available in 2012.
Among the local licensees are Telenor from Norway, which started services in September 2014, just one month after the launch of Ooredoo, a Qatar operator. The new firms have gained ground on the existing operator, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). The former monopoly, which is partnered by the Japanese firm KDDI Corp, still holds the bulk of market share with 8.4 million subscribers. Telenor now has 6.4 million and Ooredoo 3.3 million.
The increased competition has seen SIM costs fall from the equivalent of 6,600 baht in mid-2013 to just 70 baht more recently. Service costs are also expected to fall further as the three networks expand into rural areas.
Therma Visayas Inc, a subsidiary of the local holding company Aboitiz Power Corp, was granted the equivalent of a 23.4 billion baht (P31.97 billion) loan and credit accommodation from lending institutions in order to finance the construction of a 300 MW coal-fired power plant, which will be built at Barangay Bato, Toledo City, in Cebu.
PT Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned oil and gas company, will take control of the operation and development of the major gas field Mahakam Block from 1 January 2018.
Mahakam Block is located in East Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo, and the government made the decision in mid-June after awarding 70 percent of the participating interest in the block to PT Pertamina. A portion of the interest will be given to the East Kalimantan local government, with the remaining 30 percent given to the French company, Total E&P Indonesie and the Japanese company Inpex Corporation.
The Malaysia-based tech startup iflix, in partnership with the Philippines company PLDT Group, launched its first Internet TV service in Southeast Asia in mid-June.
Both companies agreed to set up an exclusive bundled strategic deal which would offer iflix to customers of PLDT’s Internet, telecommunications, mobile and multimedia services in the Philippines.
Temasek Holdings and Singapore’s largest sovereign wealth fund GIC, announced in June they were going to purchase an additional US$590.1 million worth of shares in China’s largest broking firm Citic Securities. China is in the midst of a stock market boom and the move by the Singapore firms is seen as sensible strategy to take advantage of this boom.