Malaysia: Axiata says eyeing acquisitions, mulling IPO for tower unit

Axiata Group Bhd CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim Interview And Operations At The Company's Celcom Flagship Store Photo: Bloomberg

Malaysia’s Axiata Group Bhd is seeking to seal at least one large deal in its telecom tower infrastructure business, pushing it up the ladder to become the fifth largest player by 2021 in the space.

Axiata is currently ranked at the eighth place, according to president and CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim, quoted by local media reports.

“Axiata has done three large deals so far. Maybe a small one coming this year, and one or two more big deals coming later,” he said, taking into account the recently concluded $940-million telco tower deal in Pakistan.

Last week, Axiata said its unit edotco Group Sdn Bhd secured approval to raise funds from Pakistani lenders to complete the acquisition of 13,000 tower assets from Deodar Pte Ltd.

Currently, Axiata’s telco tower infrastructure business is managed by its subsidiary edotco Group, which operates a portfolio of 27,000 towers across Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Myanmar.

A Reuters report had earlier said that edotco Group is eyeing an entry into Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, and will look to raise funds for more deals. Jamaludin claimed edotco is being valued at $1.9 billion by independent advisers and is seriously considering an initial public offering (IPO).

A Bloomberg report, meanwhile, said that if an IPO does take place, edotco could raise at least $500 million.

Talking about the Indian market, Axiata said it is optimistic that the merger between India’s second and third largest telco players – Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone India will materialise in the next two or three months, pending approvals.

Axiata currently holds a 16.3 per cent in Idea Cellular, which will be diluted to around 8 per cent after the merger.

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