Hello mobile CEO Simon Perkins (L) and Smart Mobile chief executive Thomas Hundt shake hands yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
After the subscriber transfer from bankrupt Mfone to Mobitel earlier this month, Cambodia’s crowded telecoms market has seen another shift with the legal completion of the merger of Hello and Smart on Tuesday.
Malaysian-based Axiata Group Berhad, one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies, announced the completion of the merger, in which Hello Axiata Company Limited (Hello), and Latelz Company Limited (Smart Mobile) now operate as a single entity, legally known as Latelz Company Limited.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] was the legal completion of our merger, having received all the necessary approvals from the government, and all the conditions necessary for our merger to go ahead were completed . . . yesterday in Malaysia,” Simon Perkins, former CEO of Hello and now executive director on the board of directors with Latelz, said at a press conference yesterday.
Under the brand identity “Smart”, the newly merged entity is Cambodia’s second-largest telecoms operator and has more than five million subscribers.
Once the networks are completely merged, Smart will provide a nationwide 2.5G and 3.75G network, covering all 24 of Cambodia’s provinces, 97 per cent of the population and 70 per cent of the territory, according to former Smart Mobile CEO and Smart’s new CEO, Thomas Hundt.
“The main benefits [for the customers] are... the tremendously enlarged network in terms of coverage, in terms of capacity, but also in terms of combining all the products and services of both companies,” he said.
“We are planning sizeable innovations in the network in the next months and years, and the scale of the combined company is allowing us to invest heavily in the network.
So the subscribers can expect increased coverage and the capacity we need to serve the combined subscriber base. But also, yes, we are working on additional products, services, innovative things.”
He said Axiata is present in 10 countries across Asia, which allows for roaming benefits in all Axiata networks throughout Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran.
According to Hundt, there will be an inter-operable recharge scheme for subscribers from today, in which scratch cards can be used to recharge either a current Hello number or a current Smart mobile number.
Subscribers will not have to replace SIM cards, and all SIM cards currently held by subscribers will remain valid at any time in the future, he said.
The merger deal, worth approximately $155 million, was announced last December.
Ek Vandy, secretary of state at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, told the Post in December that he welcomed any merger, saying: “It is good for them if they want to become stronger in the market and if they want to compete with others.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Anne Renzenbrink at [email protected]