Samart aims for M Link deal to accelerate the expansion of its MVNOWritten by Allan T. Rasmussen
Samart’s president Watchai Vilailuck told Bangkok Post that they are in talks to buy into the company and are discussing the price with M Link. The deal is expected to be concluded next week. Mr Watchai Vilailuck declined to specify the deal's value but said it would be a minority stake worth more than 500 million baht.
M Link Asia is a handset and mobile accessory retailer with 800 shops and nationwide distribution networks and thus a great way for Samart to accelerate the expansion of its 3G MVNO service and increase the sales of its own i-Mobile handsets.
What makes the deal more interesting is that M Link itself was mentioned a month ago by CAT Telecom’s CEO, Kitisak Sriprasert as one of a handful of companies that had approached CAT Telecom to become MVNO in Thailand.
It is not the first time Samart buys into or from M Link. Back in 2012, Samart Telecoms acquired 99,99 percent of shares in Portalnet Co., Ltd. from M-Link Asia Corporation Plc. for THB 1,552 million.
Samart’s MVNO, I-Mobile Plus (formerly i-Mobile 3G X) was awarded a contract by the other state-run operator in Thailand, TOT to provide 3G mobile service for the state telecom enterprise. I-Mobile Plus has the exclusive rights to 40% of TOT's 3G network capacity.
The company agreed to pay TOT a staggering guaranteed minimum revenue of THB 156 million for the first year and THB 476 million for the second. Samart is targeting a break-even for the MVNO in 4Q 2013 at 500,000 cumulative subscribers and a THB 200 million net profit in 2014.
M Link Asia Corporation was founded by the Wongsawat family, led by Yaowapa Wongsawat sister of Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and wife of former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. Mrs Yaowapa however resigned after her husband Somchai Wongsawat became Prime minister in 2008.
Anusorn Amornchat, the husband of Thailand’s current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, was president and executive director for M Link Asia but resigned in 2011.
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