The government of Indonesia is poised to approve Qatar Telecom (Qtel’s) purchase of an additional 24.2% stake in Indonesian mobile operator PT Indosat via a tender offer, Dow Jones reports citing an official involved in talks between the state and the Qatari company. The unnamed source is quoted as saying: ‘The finance minister, the capital market regulator, Bapepam, and the nation’s co-ordinating board for investment, BKPM, have agreed in principle to classify Indosat as a cellular operator which paves a way for Qtel to own a maximum of a 65% stake in Indosat,’
In June this year Qtel bought out Singapore Technologies Telemedia’s stake in Indosat to up its holding in the firm to 40.8%. Although the Qatari group is required under Indonesian law to tender for all the remaining shares in the company, foreign ownership limits restrict international companies from holding more than 49% of a fixed line telco or 65% of a mobile provider. In July, Gatot Dewa Broto, a spokesman at Indonesia’s communications ministry, said that the authorities considered Indosat to fall into the first category and that although Qtel had requested an exemption, the authorities had declined for fear of setting a precedent. It appears however, that they are considering a change of heart.