Indonesia’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, PT Indosat, is reportedly in exclusive talks with Tower Bersama Infrastructure, concerning the sale of telecoms towers worth USD500 million, Reuters reports citing people familiar with the situation as saying. If confirmed, it would appear that Sarana Menara Nusantara, the other leading bidder in the frame, has exited the race. In a filing to the Jakarta Stock Exchange, Indosat said it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Tower Bersama to sell some of its telecom towers. The operator launched an initial plan to sell 4,000 towers in June this year, drawing interest from a number of Indonesian firms. A final deal is expected to be concluded by the end of 2011, according to unconfirmed sources, with Australia’s ANZ, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Credit Agricole CIB and United Overseas Bank all having agreed to support Bersama on an exclusive basis in July 2011. Tower Bersama is controlled by Indonesian-based private equity firm Saratoga Capital, which was founded by Edwin Soeryadjaya and Sandiaga Uno.
Earlier this month, CommsUpdate reported that Indosat booked a sharp rise in net profits for the first nine months of this year, thanks in part to a reduction in operating expenses. The company booked net income of IDR992 billion (USD113 million) in January-September, while revenue climbed to IDR15.36 trillion from IDR14.84 trillion in the same period a year ago. Indosat CEO Harry Sasongko attributed the sharp rise in profits partly to a year-on-year fall in expenses to IDR850.2 billion, from IDR1.67 trillion in 9M10. At the end of September Indosat counted 51.5 million mobile subscribers, up 30% from 39.7 million a year ago.