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Telenor and Axiata enter talks to merge Asian businesses

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The merger would create one of the largest mobile infrastructure companies operating in Asia. BAY ISMOYO/AFP

Telenor and Axiata enter talks to merge Asian businesses

NORWEGIAN telecom operator Telenor said on Monday it has entered into talks with Malaysian telecoms group Axiata about a potential merger of the companies’ Asian operations.

The deal would see the two companies combine their telecom and infrastructure assets into a new company, of which Telenor would own 56.5 per cent and Axiata the remaining 43.5 per cent, Telenor said in a statement, adding that these figures were subject to change.

According to Telenor, which operates in the Nordic nations as well as Eastern Europe and Asia, the combined businesses would have close 300 million customers in nine different countries, making it one of the largest mobile infrastructure companies operating in Asia.

Telenor said it wants the new company to take an “active role in accelerating technology transformation and digitalisation” across Asia.

“Together, we aim to create a leading and well-diversified pan-Asian telecom and infrastructure company with substantial synergy potential and strong regional operations,” Telenor Group chair Gunn Waersted said in a statement.

Telenor currently operates in Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar, while Axiata has operating companies in Cambodia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, however Axiata’s mobile business in Bangladesh, Robi, would be excluded from the deal and independently managed by Axiata.

The two companies hope the agreement, which needs both regulatory and shareholder approval, can be finalised within the third quarter of this year.

The new company would have its operational headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and was planned to be listed on an international stock exchange as well as on Bursa Malaysia.

Axiata’s share price rose 2.3 per cent following the announcement on Monday.

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