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Thailand's AIS profits up despite prepaid slowdown

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ShinCorp holds investments in mobile networks in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. AIS, the Thai market leader, is by far the largest operation of these three, with a customer base of 26.77m at the end of Q3 08. The Laotian operation Laotel had just under 0.80m customers at the end of the quarter, while Cambodian operation Camshin had 0.71m. However, the two smaller networks are growing in importance their proportion of Shincorp's total mobile base increased from 4.5% at the end of Q3 07 to 5.4% a year later. AIS saw quarterly net additions of 0.81m, up from 0.51m in the year earlier quarter. The contract base grew strongly with 0.15m net additions, the highest figure in six quarters, and finished Q3 with 2.49m customers.

However, on an annual basis contract growth stood at just 2.3%, down from 23.2% in the prior 12 months; this led to a weakening of customer quality, with the contract percentage down 1.2pp to 9.3%. The prepaid base grew by 16.9% annually to finish on 24.29m. This was down 15.0pp compared to Q3 07, and the Q3 08 net additions figure of 0.66m was the lowest for two years. The company attributes this slowdown to seasonality and floods, and the same factors are also blamed for decreases in ARPU and AMPU. However, on an annual basis blended AMPU actually increased 12.5% to 255 minutes, while ARPU (incl. IC) was down 9.6% to Bt. 288. Rather than any meteorological factors, the key here seems to be the increased uptake of €˜buffet package' offers, which the company also mentions in passing.

While AIS recorded annual customer growth of 15.4%, Laotel grew by 23.2% and Camshin by 62.5%. Laotel's growth was 3.7pp lower than the prior year, but Camshin was up 9.2pp, largely thanks to a record 146k net additions in Q3 08. At the end of the quarter, Camshin's customer base of 0.71m was only 84k smaller than Laotel's, compared to 209k a year earlier.

In financial terms, however, revenues from ShinCorp's foreign investments grew by just 3.2% to Bt. 485m. ShinCorp's share of AIS profits showed stronger growth of 16.6% with a quarterly total of Bt. 1,722m. Disregarding one-off gains in Q3 07, total revenues stood at Bt. 4,022m with solid annual growth of 8.8%.

ShinCorp: Rolling Annual Customer Growth

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Tags: arpu  ais  Thailand  Cambodia  Lao People'S Democratic Republic