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Latest Satellite News Discussion, INTERVIEW-Thaicom to return to profit in 2010, plans dividend at General Satellite News forum; INTERVIEW-Thaicom to return to profit in 2010, plans dividend BANGKOK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Thailand's leading satellite operator, Thaicom PCL ...

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INTERVIEW-Thaicom to return to profit in 2010, plans dividend - 09-January-2010, 06:40

INTERVIEW-Thaicom to return to profit in 2010, plans dividend


BANGKOK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Thailand's leading satellite operator, Thaicom PCL THCOM.BK, said on Friday it planned to pay a dividend on earnings for 2010, when it expected to return to profit thanks to rising revenue from its IPSTAR satellite.

Thaicom, indirectly owned by Singapore's Temasek Holdings [TEM.UL], was on track to launch high-speed Internet services via IPSTAR in India, which should generate revenue from the first quarter, Chief Executive Officer Arak Chonlatanon told Reuters in an interview.

"Our growth will come from IPSTAR, which should be outstanding this year," he said, adding the company expected to announce a deal with an unidentified major client in March.

The Indian market, accounting for about 17 percent of IPSTAR's capacity, is the second largest after China.

Thaicom has also worked with China Telecom (0728.HK: Quote, Profile, Research) on a marketing plan for the Chinese market, expected to generate revenue later this year, Arak said.

Thaicom sold 7 billion baht ($211 million) in bonds in November to repay debt. That boosted the company's financial flexibility and would help it pay a dividend for 2010, he said. The last time it paid a dividend was in May 2004.

The company is expected to post a net profit of 136 million baht in 2010 versus an estimated net loss of 349 million in 2009, according to seven analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The loss in 2009 was mainly due to foreign exchange losses because about 85 percent of Thaicom's revenue is in dollars, Arak said.

The company aimed to boost sales of IPSTAR bandwidth to at least 30 percent of capacity by the end of 2010 from about 10 percent at the end of 2009, Arak said, adding the Australian market would contribute strong growth this year.

"A breakeven point at 15 percent is not enough because we have rising operating costs when we launch services in each country. We aim to sell no less than 30 percent to make a profit," he said.

Since two of its existing satellites would be taken out of service later this year, the company was considering several options to boost capacity, including a new satellite.

Thaicom was also negotiating with potential partners, especially in China, about jointly investing in a new satellite worth at least $200 million, Arak said, adding details about this investment should be finalised by the end of the year.
Thaicom was founded by former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. His relatives sold their controlling stake in Shin Corp PCL SHIN.BK, which owns 41 percent of Thaicom, to Singapore's Temasek. ($1=33.13 Baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)
   
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