Daily Puls Biznesu describes novelties in the proposed Polish telecommunication law, which has yet to be approved by parliament. We find two important and negative points for telecoms in the government’s plans as outlined by Puls Biznesu: i) the potential necessity of paying for the life extension of frequency reservations granted to telecoms in the past, ii) flexible management of frequencies.
If the government’s proposed changes to the telecommunication law were to be approved by parliament and become valid, it would clearly be a negative development for Poland’s mobile network operators. At this stage it is difficult to judge what the renewal fee would be, either the same as paid for the initial frequency reservations, or higher or lower.
As a reminder, (16,15 PLN, -0,12%) paid:
· PLN 402m for the 900MHz reservation in 1999 (expires in 2014),
· PLN 318m for 1800MHz reservation in 1997 (expires in 2012),
· PLN 2.5bn for 2.1GHz in 2000 (expires in 2023).
In any case, approval of the new law will translate into tangible capital expenditures for mobile network operators and coincides with new band auctions:
· 1800MHz in 2012/13, estimated value of the entire auction is PLN
· 800MHz in 2013/14, estimated value of the entire auction PLN
If all of the above happens and decides to participate in the new tenders and renew its frequency reservations no matter what the price, the expense would amount to roughly the following:
· PLN 120m-150m+ for new 1800MHz blocks in 2012/13,
· PLN 318m for 1800MHz in 2013, if renewed at the historical fee
(not discounted in time),
· PLN 400m-750m for the new 800MHz reservations in 2013/14,
· PLN 400m for the renewal of the 900MHz reservation in 2014/15.
We underline that TPSA’s potential capital expenditures relating to frequencies in the years ahead as presented above are very rough and could differ from the final figures. Nevertheless, our estimates do demonstrate just how high these one-off capital expenditures could be and the extent to which they could add to TPSA’s regular capital expenditures.
In our view, the above-described purchases, if they take place, could be reflected in higher financial leverage and in the most drastic scenario lower dividends in those years in which frequency purchases occur. All of this would occur at the same time as a deteriorating business (mostly fixed line) and competition in the mobile segment (aggressive tariffs), which would not support free cash flow generation. In addition, flexible frequency management by UKE could lead to further competition (in France the regulator used flexible management to allow for the entrance of
a new mobile operator). At this stage we are very cautious about including any of the above-described purchases in our model, as the new law has yet to be approved and prices finally settled. Overall, we believe the news could weigh on TPSA’s stock price today.