Lenders give Citic full backing for Macau buy

Banks agree to extend loans to cover entire purchase price for acquisition of CTM

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 4:19am

Citic Telecom International, a subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate Citic Pacific, has secured bank loans to buy 79 per cent of Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau (CTM).

Chief financial officer David Chan said eight banks would together loan US$1.16 billion to Citic Telecom to cover the purchase price.

"US$200 million will be in [the form of] a one-year loan, while the rest are all five-year loans," Chan said.

He said the interest rates were "below 5 per cent".

One of the lenders "had a mainland background", Chan said, while the others were from other countries, including Japan, Singapore and New Zealand.

Chan said the firm's dividend would remain the same.

The company was the best performer on the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday, jumping 11.9 per cent to close at HK$2.82, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.1 per cent.

A DBS research note dated Monday increased the price target for Citic Telecom to HK$3.30 from HK$1.70.

The shares have gained 25.9 per cent in the three trading days since the Macau deal was announced.

Citic Telecom said on the weekend the acquisition would increase its stake in CTM to 99 per cent. The remaining 1 per cent will be retained by government-controlled Macau Post.

DBS said it expected the acquisition to boost Citic Telecom's earnings per share by more than half this year, assuming CTM started contributing to profits at the beginning of the year.

Established in 1981, CTM is the sole operator in the fixed-line and internet segments and enjoys a 47 per cent market share in mobile services in the world's biggest gaming destination.

"We expect Macau's gaming revenue to grow by 10 to 15 per cent in 2013, which will be a growth driver for CTM's mobile business," DBS said.

Chan said the gaming and telecommunications industries would both be boosted by the increasing number of visitors to Macau.

Handset sales contributed 42 per cent to CTM's overall revenue in 2011, and many of the devices are believed to have been bought by visitors.

Citic Telecom expects to complete the acquisition during the second half of the year.