Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Axiata mulls Smart stake sale

Axiata mulls Smart stake sale

Customers visit a Smart outlet in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Photo supplied
Customers visit a Smart outlet in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Photo supplied

Axiata mulls Smart stake sale

Malaysian telecom giant Axiata Group will consider divesting a portion of its stake in Cambodian mobile operator Smart Axiata Co Ltd in a bid to free up capital to “pursue opportunities”, including infrastructure expansion and future acquisitions, a company executive said yesterday.

Currently, Axiata holds a 92.5 percent stake in Smart, which claims over 7.5 million subscribers.

Speaking at the Axiata Regional Media Summit, Chari Thandalam Veeravalli Thirumala, Group Chief Financial Officer of Axiata, said the company would consider selling up to 40 percent of its stake in Smart to a strategic investor, providing the company “can find the right partner.”

“Why do we need 80 percent of a company, for instance? We [only] need 51 percent for control, but anything beyond we can sell and use . . . [the proceeds] to pursue opportunities” he said.

While he stressed that the stake sale was only one proposal to raise funds for expansion, he said in Smart’s case Axiata would consider a local strategic partner, or a foreign partner from a country “friendly to Cambodia,” such as China.

He said the proceeds of a stake sale could be used to fund infrastructure growth or acquisitions in or out of Cambodia.

He added that the company could consider acquiring one of Cambodia’s smaller telecoms, including qb.

Axiata currently has full or partial stakes in telecom operators in Asian countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Singapore.

Thirumala expects capital expenditure to exceed $1.3 billion across the group this year.

He said Smart was one of the company's most successful growth stories of its portfolio.

For the first half of this year, Smart posted revenues of $122 million, a 22 percent year-on-year increase, with a capital expenditure of around $35 million, according to Axiata.

Thirumvala valued Smart as “probably worth nearly $1 billion,” and estimated that the telecom has a 57 percent market share for data subscribers with nearly 3 million clients.

“We wish we could have similar execution in our other ventures,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • Prime Minister: Take back islands from inactive developers

    The government will “take back” land on roughly 30 islands from private companies that have not made progress on planned developments, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that also targeted land-grabbing villagers and idle provincial governors. Speaking at the inauguration of the

  • Land on capital’s riverfront is opened up for investment

    The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing. The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the

  • Royal Group's Koh Rong luxury hotel officially opens

    The Royal Sands Koh Rong hotel on Monday marked its official launch as the first luxury resort on Cambodia’s most visited island. Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over the inauguration of the hotel, which has been open since December, and features rooms priced at