Friday, October 19, 2012

Can Green Packet do a Sprint ... or at least a Clearwire?

Everyone know that Green Packet has tried very hard - almost everyone that is. But a Telco business is a non apologetic business - either you are there or you are not. Green Packet has raised a lot of funds to do what it has done in this business. But in a telco business, you can't just raise your funds, have a shopping complex type of business - after the completion, sit tight, do the right promotional activities and if you are good with the right tenant, people will frequent, if you are not good, it is almost impossible to turnaround. In the telco space, it is difficult to be a Low Yat Plaza vs KLCC and still do well with a strong niche.

Telco business especially wireless, you will need to continue to reinvest. It does not stop at 2G. 3G is already here, HSDPA, 4G LTE being deployed, Wimax etc. If Green Packet intends to invest half a billion ringgit, Maxis will (and has capacity to) invests RM2 - 3 billion. Digi will do the same, and so will Celcom. So, where is Green Packet's advantage? They can do it, you can't. Even at RM100 million it is a big choke to Packet One's cashflow.

This same predicament has been felt by a company called Clearwire in United States. In fact, Green Packet in Malaysia is what Clearwire is in US. Both originally run on the WIMAX. Now, Green Packet, if you notice is selling fibre broadband as well, taking the pipe from TM. Hence, it has now become a service provider rather than a network owner. Clearwire in US is choking as well, and recently, Softbank via Sprint has taken a controlling position.

Recently, Green Packet's share price had a run, with rumours that it may be selling its Packet One's business. So, the price shot up almost 50% from RM0.42 to RM0.62 within a few days. Traders have (still) a few field days, or could it be the owners? We don't know.

Green packet's one month chart ending 18 Oct 2012
At the same time in US - a real M&A was announced few days ago where Sprint was to be taken over by Softbank in a USD20 billion deal. Sprint, if I may put it is facing what Digi was facing more than 10 years ago. It is losing out in the mobile race where currently US is having a "duopoly" - AT&T and Verizon. Sprint and T-Mobile are distant third and fourth - and these are choking both companies balance sheets and cashflow to the extent that Sprint was in the brink of financial distress. But, the deal from Softbank may probably change the landscape a bit, I hope. The deal is good enough for Sprint to had a good run. And so is Clearwire's, which shares was acquired by Sprint for its control of the former's prized spectrum.

Sprint's last 2 months share price

Back to Malaysia, the old Digi was facing difficulties to expand even with Vincent Tan's billions - Until, the mobile company was taken over by Telenor. Celcom and Maxis, from there lost some market share to Digi, and there voila!, Digi is just right behind these 2 players currently. You see, the difference between Vincent Tan and Telenor are scale, ability, people and focus - not just the money.

Green Packet is probably hoping for the same in Packet One, and it needs a large telco from overseas, in the mould of NTT, SK Telekom etc. Even then, it will be a tough task for any of the acquirers. Additionally, the problem as I see it in Packet One is that it is not Digi or Sprint. Firstly, Packet One is not a mobile company. It was a mobile broadband company. Now, as I said, that line has blurred and it is going for fixed line broadband as well riding on other people's line. Packet One is going to get a LTE spectrum, but as in this business, if your road is quiet, it is going to be eerily quiet. The game is in promotion, deployment and marketing. This is the game where Packet One is going to lose without being deep pockets. In this, Green Packet desperately needs to sell.

Will anyone serious be interested? And to fill that puzzle, that acquirer needs billions of ringgit to start off with and one of the three or four (TM included) dominant telcos to make some mistakes along the way. Probably, a tough one to hope for...


khengsiong said...

A few years ago, GP's CEO met up with some bloggers. I was one of them.

The CEO told us P1 was supported by Intel. We were still in PC era then. Now we are in Smartphone era, and Intel is a small player in this game.

3217 said...

I am still bound to GP's P1 contract. The connection is getting worse, most of the time I can't even view website in text-only-mode in spite of good signal. I doubt Intel really looked after them after all.

felicity said...

I think Intel can't do much as it is struggling beyond PC and Servers.

Wimax is not kicking off as well, There are no or very little notebooks with Wimax. Intel is supposed to do its job here, but not happening.

William said...

GP has made an announcement today, saying that it has not received any bids from any party to purchase its shareholdings in P1.


Kaki Saya said...

Bro nice blog. Is it just me or is your blog layout too "wide"? Thus cramping too much text in a line. Text are too small when i am reading on ipad.

felicity said...

Hi I have tried. It works on mine bith iphone and ipad.