GuarantCo provides a USD 70 million bond guarantee to CamGSM (Cellcard) to finance telecom infrastructure in Cambodia

  • Date written
  • January, 2024

GuarantCo, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has provided CamGSM (Cellcard) with a USD 70 million guarantee to support an internationally certified sustainability bond fully subscribed by institutional investors Manulife and Prudential Cambodia, listed at the Cambodian Stock Exchange on 24th November 2023, and loan financing from Deutsche Bank AG, Singapore Branch. The proceeds of the financing will be used towards the expansion of Cellcard’s telecom infrastructure.

GuarantCo provides a USD 70 million bond guarantee to CamGSM (Cellcard) to finance telecom infrastructure in Cambodia

Both the bond and loan have obtained second party opinions from Moody’s Investor Services on their alignment with the international ICMA Green Bond, Social Bond, Sustainability Bond Principles as well as LMA/APLMA/LSTA Green Loan, Social Loan Principles. All proceeds from the bond and loan will be allocated towards green/social Use of Proceeds categories financing 4G telecommunication towers, energy efficient 4G equipment and future-proofing the network in preparation for 5G rollout.

This transaction aims to enhance Cellcard’s service quality for its customers including improved coverage, speed and increased data capacity supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal 9: Significantly increase access to information and communications technology.

This impact that the transaction will deliver to local people in Cambodia is significant; it is expected that over one million consumers will benefit from increased internet speed and coverage, improving their quality of life and productivity, whilst businesses will also benefit from enhanced productivity through improved speed and coverage of service.

In total around 260 jobs will be created: 200 jobs in construction for installers, riggers, engineers, surveyors, designers, network optimisers, network testers and drivers and 60 jobs for tower maintenance workers and back-office roles. The project will also make an important contribution to empowering women as 20 percent of Cellcard’s management and 30 percent of the workforce are women.

Layth Al-Falaki, CEO at GuarantCo, said:

“We are delighted to close our first telecommunication transaction in Asia and third transaction in Cambodia from which many local people and businesses will benefit due to the improved quality of telecommunication services. The Cellcard transaction also is our second deal with the Royal Group with which we closed a USD 24 million bond guarantee for Royal Railway in December 2022. This is another good example of replicating transactions in the same market with the same strategic partners including Manulife and Prudential Cambodia with whom we have closed multiple transactions in Asia. We are also delighted to have closed our first transaction with Deutsche Bank as a beneficiary which provided 100 per cent funding for the loan tranche. Replicability is a key focus area for GuarantCo in order to close transactions faster and, in so doing, provide people in lower income countries across Africa and Asia with the much needed sustainable infrastructure.”

Simon Perkins, CEO of CamGSM Plc, said:

“The CamGSM’s sustainability bond and secured financing will support projects aiming to alleviate climate change related risks with investment in renewable energy and provide connectivity to the underserved population. The USD 70 million funds, as guaranteed by GuarantCo, will be allocated strategically, enhancing the network and infrastructure capabilities, as well as investing in environment-friendly products and initiatives aimed at serving the underserved communities.”

His Excellency SOU Socheat, Director General at the Securities and Exchange Regulator of Cambodia, said:

“GuarantCo has become a very important company that provides guarantees in the bond market in Cambodia which will strengthen both local and foreign investors’ confidence. The participation of GuarantCo in the journey of Cambodia securities market development will open up this market to welcome foreigners who aim to invest in the securities market in Cambodia. I believe that GuarantCo will continue to support the development of Cambodia securities market, especially to attract more foreign capital through securities market and promote the economic development in the country.”

You Kanhary, Acting Director of Listing & Disclosure Department at the Cambodia Securities Exchange, said:

“As the only one securities exchange in Cambodia, our roles are to expand financing options for Cambodian enterprises as well as to diversify the investment portfolios for public investors. We are delighted to see the sustainable growth of enterprises which play an important role in contributing to job creation, poverty reduction, environmental amelioration and economic development. The transition towards sustainability is a vital factor for individuals, institutions and government to take it as the priority. In alignment with “National Strategic Plan on Green Growth 2013-2030 issued by the Royal Government of Cambodia, we are striving to develop and achieve as a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative which requires all related parties joining hands towards sustainable development goals”.     

May Lin, Chief Financial Officer at Manulife Cambodia, said:

“Manulife Cambodia is pleased to be the main investor in the CamGSM sustainability bond guaranteed by GuarantCo that supports projects relating to digital connectivity, energy efficiency, and those that are aimed at alleviating climate change related risks.  Such investments align with Manulife’s Impact Agenda, a framework that guides our efforts and decisions in building a business to better the world.  We look forward for the bond to finance projects that will reap benefits for Cambodia both socially and environmentally.”

Freddie Wong, Chief Actuary at Prudential Cambodia, said:

“Congratulations to CamGSM PLC (Cellcard) on the remarkable achievement of securing a USD 70 million bond guarantee by GuarantCo. This significant milestone is a testament to CamGSM’s strong standing in the industry and its commitment to advancing telecommunication infrastructure. With the investment in Cambodia’s first sustainability bond issued by CamGSM PLC (Cellcard), Prudential Cambodia emphasizes its commitment to a sustainable, inclusive, and responsible future. This underscores our steadfast belief in the power of collaboration and shared vision to embark on this journey to mobilize resources, drive meaningful impact, and demonstrates our unwavering dedication to building a resilient and sustainable Cambodia for generations to come. This investment is reflected in our ESG principles under one of the key strategic pillars of responsible investment which aims to enable a just and inclusive transition to net zero for every future.”

Seng Chan Thoeun, CEO at Royal Group Securities, said:

“It is with great pleasure to witness the continued cooperation between Royal Group Securities and all stakeholders in uplifting the capital market in Cambodia. The issuance of the Kingdom’s first-ever sustainability bond reaffirms our dedication in improving Cambodia in both the financial and sustainable domains. Proven by this successful milestone, Royal Group Securities stays committed to raising more capital for our local businesses which generates a ripple effect on people’s livelihood. Leveraging our extensive network and expertise, we remain steadfast in the pursuit of our objectives, actively driving and championing the growth of the securities sector.”


About GuarantCo

GuarantCo mobilises private sector local currency investment for infrastructure projects and supports the development of financial markets in lower income countries across Africa and Asia. GuarantCo is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden, through the PIDG Trust, the Netherlands, through FMO and the PIDG Trust, France through a stand-by facility and Global Affairs Canada through a repayable facility. GuarantCo is rated AA- by Fitch and A1 by Moody’s. Since 2005, GuarantCo has enabling USD 6.2 billion of total investment and USD 5.2 billion of private sector investment, giving 45.2 million people improved access to infrastructure and creating around 229,000 jobs. GuarantCo’s activities are managed by GuarantCo Management Company which is part of Cardano Development.

About PIDG

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) is an innovative infrastructure project developer and investor which mobilises private investment in sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and south and south-east Asia. PIDG investments promote socio-economic development within a just transition to net zero emissions, combat poverty and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PIDG delivers its ambition in line with its values of pioneering, partnership, safety, inclusivity and urgency.
PIDG offers Technical Assistance for upstream, early-stage activities and concessional capital; its project development arm – which includes InfraCo Africa and InfraCo Asia – invests in early-stage project development and project and corporate equity. PIDG credit solutions include EAIF (the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund), one of the first and more successful blended debt fund in low-income markets; GuarantCo, its guarantee arm that provides credit enhancement and local currency solutions to de-risk projects; and a growing portfolio of local credit enhancement facilities, which unlocks domestic institutional capital for infrastructure financing.
Since 2002, PIDG has supported 211 infrastructure projects to financial close, which provided an estimated 222 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Germany and the IFC.

About CamGSM (Cellcard)

Launched in 1997, Cellcard is the only Cambodian owned telecommunications operator and part of the Royal Group of Companies. Cellcard provides connectivity to more than three million customers with a strong commitment to empowering the Cambodian people and the economy for the digital age and beyond.