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UPDATE 2-Australia's TPG reports increased access to funds, shares jump 10 pct
September 19, 2017 / 5:06 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Australia's TPG reports increased access to funds, shares jump 10 pct

* Says debt facilities up by A$750 mln to fund capex

* Debt facility reduces fear of equity raising -analyst

* Net profit beats analyst estimates

* Cuts dividend, flags profit fall next year (Recasts on debt facility; adds shares jump, analyst comment)

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Australia’s TPG Telecom Ltd on Tuesday said banks have raised the amount of money the low-cost internet access provider can borrow, sending its stock price as much as 10 percent higher as investors cheered the reduced need to sell more shares.

The announcement eclipsed a cut in TPG’s final dividend for the year through July, as well as a forecast decline in pre-tax profit next year in anticipation of increased competition.

“People are happy it can now borrow more and therefore it may not need an equity raising to fund mobile capex and spectrum payments,” said senior analyst David Spotswood at wealth manager Shaw and Partners.

TPG’s share price has fallen more than 80 percent since peaking in July last year as it struggles for profit growth. In April, it said it planned to spend A$1.4 billion ($1.12 billion) building a fourth-generation (4G) communications network to better compete.

On Tuesday, it said it would pay for the network and other commitments with the help of debt facilities that had increased 46 percent to A$2.38 billion. It also said the facilities’ terms had improved.

Alongside the announcement, TPG reported a 9 percent rise in net profit for the year to July 31 at A$413.8 million. Analysts on average had estimated a slight decline, showed data from Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For the year through July 2018, competition sparked by the new government-owned National Broadband Network (NBN) is likely to leave pre-tax profit at A$800 to A$815 million, versus A$835 million in the just-ended business year, TPG said.

NBN is widely expected to be Australia’s biggest telecommunications wholesaler by about 2021 when fibre-optic wire replaces the copper system of Telstra Corp Ltd. So far, telcos have struggled to profit from the new infrastructure due to offering discounts to encourage customers to switch.

TPG also cut its final dividend to its lowest since 2011 at 2 Australian cents a share from 7.5 cents in July last year.

“The board has concluded that it is in the best interests of shareholders that a greater proportion of profits be retained in the company to be deployed in the mobile rollouts,” said Executive Chairman David Teoh, who owns 34 percent of TPG.

“The board is confident that this course will prove in the long run to be the right decision for shareholders.”

Telstra also cut its dividend this financial year, by 30 percent. Vocus Group Ltd did not declare a final dividend for fiscal 2017 and said it did not expect to pay dividends in fiscal 2018. ($1 = 1.2547 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Paulina Duran; Additional reporting by Hanna Paul and Christina Martin; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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