March 14, 2014 7:00 pm JST

Thai cellphone carrier True promises profit by 2015

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

BANGKOK -- True Corp. recently posted its third straight year in the red, but the communication conglomerate is confident it can ride Thailand's fast-growing smartphone market to profitability by 2015.

     The company posted a consolidated net loss of 9.1 billion baht ($286 million) in 2013, compared to a 7.4 billion baht loss the year before. The company booked an impairment loss for its 2G network assets, as its 2G concession expired in September.

     President and CEO Suphachai Chearavanont stressed at a press conference last week that the losses are temporary. "I am confident that True will transform into a profitable company by 2015," he said. "For this year, we will focus on strengthening our business and financial platforms."

     The key revenue driver will be its mobile operations. True is Thailand's third-largest carrier. In 2013, its cellular service revenue grew 12.9% and subscribers reached 22.9 million, up 1.9 million from a year earlier. This year it aims to gain a further 1.1 million users.

     The company plans to increase its capital expenditure in mobile operations by 20% this year to 15 billion baht, mainly to beef up its 3G and 4G LTE networks for smart device users.

     According to local media reports, the carrier is also considering launching cellphone operations in Myanmar, which would be its first foreign expansion. It is reportedly in alliance talks with several local Internet providers, including Yatanarpon Teleport.