Hutchison weighs Indonesian telecom deal with Axiata

KUALA LUMPUR • CK Hutchison Holdings, the Hong Kong conglomerate backed by tycoon Victor Li, has made a preliminary approach to Axiata Group about a potential combination of their Indonesian telecommunications operations, sources said.

CK Hutchison has informally expressed interest in exploring a combination of its Indonesian wireless business with Axiata's unit in the country, XL Axiata, the sources said.

Shares of XL Axiata have risen about 66 per cent in Jakarta trading this year, giving the company a market value of US$2.5 billion (S$3.5 billion).

Axiata, Malaysia's biggest wireless carrier, and Norway's Telenor last week ended talks to merge their Asian telecommunications operations.

The deal would have created a company with 300 million customers across nine countries.

Axiata has been introducing strategic investors to some of its businesses and pushing into new areas as it seeks to revitalise growth.

The exact structure of any potential deal in Indonesia has not been decided. Deliberations are at an early stage and may not lead to a transaction, the sources said.

A CK Hutchison representative declined to comment.

Axiata said it had "created significant value uplift and attractiveness for its operations" in the last year. "We have attracted a lot of suitors to partner with us and seeking to acquire our assets, including Telenor, Mitsui (and) Sumitomo."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'Hutchison weighs Indonesian telecom deal with Axiata'. Print Edition | Subscribe