CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas: 01/17/14

CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas: 01/17/14

Liberty Global considering spinning off Latin American assets – Chile, Puerto Rico

Roundup: Hybrid PayTech, LIME, NII Holdings – Regional

Roundup: Fairfax Financial, M2M, Digital TV – Argentina, Regional

Digicel El Salvador to invest US$45mn by 2015 – El Salvador

Mobile competition becomes fiercer in Panama as market reaches saturation – Pyramid – Panama

 

Liberty Global considering spinning off Latin American assets – Chile, Puerto Rico

Liberty Global (Nasdaq: LBTYA) is considering spinning off its Latin American assets – the 80% it controls in cable and mobile operator VTR in Chile and its 60% stake in Liberty Cablevisión in Puerto Rico, according to a filing.

The company made the announcement in the prospectus of a bond offering by VTR.

The group is spinning off VTR’s financing operations into a new company, separate from its main European holding company UPC. As part of this, VTR will issue US$1.4bn in notes due 2022 and 2024 in order to pay off UPC credit facilities.

“Liberty Global is disclosing in the offering memorandum for the notes offering that it is exploring opportunities with respect to its Latin American operations including a possible spin-off of those operations to Liberty Global’s shareholders,” Liberty said, adding it is unclear when and if such a transaction will occur.

In 2Q13, VTR posted 6.7% rebased growth to US$245mn, according to Liberty’s latest financial statement.

The parent company has shifted its attention to Europe. Liberty bought US pay TV provider Virgin Media last year for US$16bn and is rumored to be in the process of acquiring Dutch broadband carrier Ziggo.

 

 Roundup: Hybrid PayTech, LIME, NII Holdings – Regional

Canadian firm Hybrid PayTech has signed an exclusive supply agreement with Brazilian company SuperPay, the former said in a statement.

The agreement between the companies will further address the needs of merchants requiring an accredited MSR & EMVl1/l2 MPOS solution that will enable mobile check out for retail, hospitality services, field services, line busting and delivery services.

“We are excited about the partnership with SuperPay as they have a successful footprint in Brazil extending into Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Mexico, Hybrid PayTech’s founder Massimo Barone said.

***

Jamaican telco LIME has won a contract to provide a new telecommunications solution for the country’s Falmouth Regional Hospital, local press reported.

Under the contract, the telco will supply, install and commission a PBX system for the hospital.

The Western Regional Health Authority had invited firms to bid to provide the solution in 2013 and recently advised LIME that it had been selected as the provider.

***

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has lowered telco NII Holdings’ corporate ratings to CCC+ from B-, the ratings agency said in a statement.

Standard & Poor’s also said that the outlook for the company’s credit ratings is negative.

“The downgrade is based on NII’s weak operating and financial performance and our view that the company’s financial commitments may be unsustainable over the next few years, although liquidity should remain ‘adequate’ in 2014,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Allyn Arden.

 

Roundup: Fairfax Financial, M2M, Digital TV – Argentina, Regional

Canadian financial services holding Fairfax Financial (NYSE: FFH), BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, has agreed to purchase, through its subsidiaries, an additional US$250mn principal amount of 6% unsecured subordinated convertible debentures of BlackBerry, the latter said in a statement.

The additional debentures will be purchased pursuant to the exercise of a previously announced option that was granted in connection with BlackBerry’s private placement of US$1bn principal amount of debentures on November 13, 2013, BlackBerry said.

***

Global revenues from machine-to-machine (M2M) technology are expected to reach US$44.8bn over the next five years, consultancy firm Ovum reported.

Total global M2M connections will more than treble from 106mn in 2012 to 361mn in 2018, at a CAGR of 22.6%, Ovum said.

Although there will be growth across all regions, Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa are expected to experience the fastest growth, according to the consultancy.

***

Argentina’s audiovisual services agency Afsca signed an agreement with state-controlled oil firm YPF to boost digital TV services, local press reported.

In an initial phase, digital TV decodifiers will be installed in gas stations in Argentine capital Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, Dolores, Tigre and Susques (Jujuy). These five stations will work as a test to decide later if the experience is extended to all the firm’s gas stations across the country.

Digicel El Salvador to invest US$45mn by 2015 – El Salvador

Irish-owned mobile operator Digicel’s El Salvador unit plans to invest US$45mn in upgrading its services between now and 2015, the company’s country manager José Antonio Rodríguez was quoted as saying by local daily El Mundo.

According to the executive, 2013 was a challenging year that required three large projects that were carried out simultaneously, including upgrading the mobile network and billing platforms.

Network coverage was increased by 12% and 4G HSPA+ deployed in the greater San Salvador area, a service that was launched on January 7.

According to Rodríguez, despite a difficult economic situation, Digicel El Salvador managed to grow its client base by 6%.

The executive said that the company is still interested in an auction for 40MHz of spectrum that could be used for 4G LTE services.

Telecoms regulator Siget temporarily suspended in November, for the second time, a tender for 40MHz of mobile spectrum.

In October, Siget suspended the process after antitrust regulator Superintendencia de Competencia (SC) recommended that Siget modify the auction to allow only new competitors to participate.

In October, Siget also suspended the implementation of number portability until the next government. Presidential elections are due to take place on February 2.

Last year Digicel affirmed its commitment to El Salvador after a second failed attempt to sell the company to América Móvil in 2012.

 

 Mobile competition becomes fiercer in Panama as market reaches saturation – Pyramid – Panama

Competition among mobile players in Panama is expected to become even more intense in the coming years as the mobile voice market appears to have reached saturation, according to a new report by Pyramid Research.

Panama had about 6.30mn mobile lines as of the end of 2013, falling from a high of 6.74mn at the end of 2011, but still amounting to a penetration rate of 164% of the population, according to regulator Asep figures.

As slower increases in mobile voice boosts competition between operators, telecoms industry growth is set to come mainly from mobile data, pay TV and fixed broadband services, according to Pyramid.

Total telecoms revenues in the Central American country will increase from US$1.38bn in 2013 to around US$1.71bn in 2018.

Mobile internet is relatively widespread in Panama, reaching 14.5% penetration as of the middle of 2012, and is expected to increase to 45.4% by 2016, according to an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) report.

Meanwhile, Pyramid’s forecasts present an even more optimistic scenario. The number of 3G connections will surpass 2G in the country during this year, and will reach 73% of all mobile subscriptions in Panama by 2018, according to the firm.

Meanwhile, fixed broadband penetration has been hindered by high service prices and a lack of competition.

Penetration reached just 8% at the end of 2013, but that figure is set to increase significantly to 14.7% in 2018, Pyramid said.

The government is aiming to reach a fixed broadband penetration rate of over 47% in the next 10 years, the report added.