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28 June 2007
Bakrie Telecom to raise $145m syndicated loan for expansion

Publicly listed telecommunications firm PT Bakrie Telecom Tbk will raise US$145 million in the form of a syndicated loan from a consortium of overseas financial institutions.

President director Anindya Novyan Bakrie said Tuesday that the company would use $95 million of the loan to partly finance network expansion and the remainder to refinance debt worth Rp 450 billion (US$50 million).

The loan will mature in five years, including a two-year grace period, and will carry an interest rate of around nine percent, or four percent above the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) -- the world benchmark for short-term interest rates.

The loan agreement was signed recently by the company and the consortium, with Credit Suisse acting as the lead arranger.

This year, Bakrie Telecom will expand its network to 17 big cities around the country, including Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Medan and Padang. At present, the CDMA operator only serves Jakarta, and West Java and Banten provinces.

"These 17 cities are prospective markets for our business as we have discovered that most of their residents suit our customer profiles in the sense that they are value-oriented," Anindya said, adding that the company was running a major television advertising campaign for its cellular brand, Esia.

"By the end of this year, we will have covered 34 cities around the country."

The company will spend $220 million on capital investment this year.

It expects to double the number of its subscribers by the end of this year to 3.6 million, comprising 3.1 million in Greater Jakarta, and West Java and Banten provinces, and the remaining 500,000 in the new coverage areas. As of the end of the first quarter, the company had around 1.8 million subscribers.

By way of comparison, Bakrie Telecom's competitors PT Telkom and Mobile-8 have five million and two million subscribers, respectively.

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

To raise more fresh capital, the company also plans to issue bonds worth Rp 500 billion in the third quarter of this year.

In the first quarter, its net profit surged 134 percent to Rp 16.25 billion from Rp 120 million in the corresponding period last year.

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