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TRUE REPORTS IMPROVED THIRD-QUARTER PERFORMANCE

- Group revenue and EBITDA higher Q-on-Q; benefits of diversified business helping boost results
- TrueMove revenue declines ease with high net adds; IC impact reduced
- rueOnline revenues up, Broadband and IDD contribution increasing
- TrueVisions delivers strong mass market upselling growth
- Convergence progresses as subscribers to bundling packages increase
- Recapitalization to strengthen balance sheet; prepare for 3G

True Corporation PLC (SET: TRUE) has delivered improved quarterly results, its status as Thailands only fully integrated telecom player helping the company weather current economic conditions. TrueVisions and TrueOnline performed well in Q3, driving group revenues higher. TrueMove revenue declines eased while net adds rose strongly and measures to reduce net IC impact began to show results. 

 

Consolidated service revenue (excluding interconnection charges) was 1.4% higher     Q-on-Q at Bt 13 bn while TrueMoves improved performance helped EBITDA increase 2% to Bt 4.4 bn. On a Y-on-Y basis, service revenue rose slightly (0.6%) although EBITDA declined 6% due mainly to lower revenues and net IC impact at TrueMove. 

 

Group net loss from ongoing operations in Q3 was Bt 513 mn compared to a loss of Bt 186 mn in Q2. This was mainly a result of higher depreciation and amortization costs at TrueMove due to a one-off item. Bottom-line loss stood at Bt 1.7 bn, a significant improvement on Q2 due to less FX impact.

 

The signs were more positive for TrueMove in Q3 following its soft second quarter.

 

TrueMove added 720,000 new subscribers for Q3; its share of total net adds increasing to more than 31%, up from 23.5% the previous quarter. It also successfully attracted back heavy non-voice users. Non-voice revenues grew 5.5% both Q-on-Q and Y-on-Y to contribute 12.5% of service revenue, excluding IC.

TrueMove service revenue, excluding IC, was down slightly (0.1%) Q-on-Q to Bt 5.5 bn however EBITDA was up 18% to Bt 1.4 bn after cost cutting. Y-on-Y, service revenue, excluding IC, declined 8% while lower revenues and IC impact resulted in a 24% decline in EBITDA.

 

True Moves results have improved after a disappointing Q2 and we expect to see this trend continue in Q4, said True President and CEO Suphachai Chearavanont.   We will seek further IC reductions to achieve a more balanced IC profile in early 2009. Strong Q3 subscriber growth gives us confidence we can capture one third of net adds this year. Meanwhile, our recapitalization will see us better placed to pursue future growth opportunities such as 3G.

 

TrueOnline continues to perform well despite the current economic conditions.

 

Service revenues were up 1.7% Q-on-Q to Bt 6.4 bn from greater IDD and Broadband contribution. EBITDA however, was down 4.3% Q-on-Q to Bt 2.4 bn due to cost increases. Y-on-Y, service revenue rose 6.2% while EBITDA was up 5.4%.

 

Broadband added a net 20,000 subscribers, taking the total to 625,000. High-bandwidth Broadband subscribers grew strongly as Super hi-speed Internet packages gained momentum; subscribers using 1 Mbps or more increasing to 63% from 53% at the end of 2007. Wi-Fi subscriber numbers also saw high growth; hitting 87,000 in Q3, up from 53,000 in Q2.

 

TrueVisions net adds more than doubled Q-on-Q to 133,000 driven by continued mass market success and the start of the EPL season. The upselling rate meanwhile, rose to 27% from 22% in Q2; these factors helping increase the number of paying subscribers strongly. The total subscriber base is now 1.3 mn, up 40% from the year before.

 

TrueVisions service revenue rose 3.8% Q-on-Q and 7.8% Y-on-Y to Bt 2.4 bn. EBITDA increased by 1% Q-on-Q and was also up slightly (0.9%) Y-on-Y after content cost increases.

 

We are committed to building on TrueVisions performance by developing more in-house programming to match local tastes, said Mr Supachai. This will further drive mass market success and help us maximize any future benefits from pay-TV advertising. At the same time we will enhance our premium packages to reinforce subscriber benefits and loyalty.

 

Trues Convergence strategy continued to progress with higher growth in key bundling packages in Q3. Net adds more than doubled for the Free View package, bundling TrueMove and TrueVisions services. Meanwhile, the Super hi-speed Internet package bundling Broadband, TrueMove and TrueVisions has continued to attract subscribers.

 

True Group CFO Noppadol Dej-Udom added: Trues debt level has decreased following repayment of Bt 3.1 bn during the first nine months of the year. Following our proposed recapitalization via rights offering, our balance sheet is expected to further improve. Moreover, we are confident the recapitalization will see True emerge a much stronger company, to the benefit of shareholders and customers alike.

 

Note:  In this media release, True, Company, Affiliates and Subsidiaries refer to True Corporation PLC and/or its affiliates and/or its subsidiaries

 

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