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Axiata sells 10% stake in Cambodia’s Smart

A man speaks on a mobile phone in front of a Smart retail store in Phnom Penh.
A man speaks on a mobile phone in front of a Smart retail store in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Axiata sells 10% stake in Cambodia’s Smart

Axiata Group sold a 10 percent stake of its Cambodian subsidiary Smart Axiata to Japanese group Mitsui Co Ltd to form a strategic partnership and further the firm’s activity in the Kingdom, according to a company release on Friday.

Mitsui purchased the stake in the local telecom for $66 million, putting the value of the company at $724 million when considering cash received from dividends, the release said. It added that Mitsui had a call option to purchase a further 10 percent stake within 12 months as part of the agreement.

Following the transaction, Axiata will continue to hold a controlling 82.5 percent stake in Smart.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, said in the release that the new partnership served to further the company’s digital strategy in Cambodia, while helping it expand its reach in the country.

“Smart’s unique strength in data and digital leadership, network coverage and value-added offerings will be greatly enhanced by Mitsui’s involvement as Smart continues to evolve towards a digital lifestyle brand,” he said.

After investing $967 million in its operations in the Kingdom between 2008 to 2016, Smart is expecting to invest an additional $80 million in 2017, mainly to expand its 4G network in the country, Axiata said in the announcement.

Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, president and group CEO of Axiata, said Mitsui’s expertise will help Smart accelerate its technological adoption and expand into new areas of development.

“This strategic partnership with Mitsui will support the growth efforts of Smart, particularly in the areas of digital services and IoT [Internet of Things] and our vision of becoming a new generation digital champion,” he said.

“With Mitsui in the fold, Smart will be in a position to offer enhanced digital services that would leapfrog Cambodia’s digital economy.”

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