Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bakrie Telecom ups customer target to 3.6 million this year

Friday, July 20, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Bakrie Telecom (BTEL), the telecommunications unit of Bakrie and Brothers, reported Wednesday a 63 percent rise in gross revenues to Rp 580 billion (US$63.7 million) in the first semester, from Rp 355 billion in the same period of 2006.

The company, which operates a CDMA-based mobile phone service using the Esia brand, attributed the sharp increase to a 112-percent jump in the number of its subscribers to 2.2 million as of the end of June from 1.1 million at the end of the same month in 2006.

Besides its Esia brand, BTEL also operates a Wifone wireless fixed service, Wimode wireless internet service and the Esia-tel chain of telephone kiosks.

President director Anindya Novyan Bakrie said that BTEL expected to increase the number of its subscribers to 3.6 million as of the end of the year.

Anindya said that with the sharp increase in the number of its subscribers, starting next month BTEL would expand its national coverage to 34 cities from the existing 17 cities in Greater Jakarta, and West Java and Banten provinces.

To support the expansion project, the company would double the number of its telecommunications towers to 800. The expansion is expected to account for 500,000 subscribers out of the total target of 3.6 million.

"We expect that we will have coverage in 34 cities by the end of the year. Our target is to become a national player offering high quality services and products at affordable prices."

The company said earlier that it would set aside about $220 million for capital expenditure to finance its expansion this year, $70 million of which would be raised from vendor financing, $95 million from bank borrowing and $55 million from bonds.

The company would also issue bonds worth Rp 500 million in the third quarter to help finance the expansion. The bonds would be sold to the public from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, and be listed on the Surabaya Stock Exchange on Sept 10.

To manage the bond issue, the company has appointed two underwriters -- PT Danatama Makmur Investment Bank and PT Mandiri Sekuritas. (02)

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