Completion of Hello merger makes Smart the second largest cellco

21 Feb 2013

Malaysia’s Axiata Group has announced the completion of the merger of its Cambodian subsidiary Hello Axiata Company with larger rival Latelz Company (Smart Mobile), after the deal received approval from the Cambodian government. Axiata will hold a majority stake in the combined entity, which will be legally known as Latelz Company and operate under the Smart brand. It will be headed by Thomas Hundt, former CEO of Smart Mobile, while Simon Perkins, Hello’s former CEO, will be appointed as the executive director on the board of directors. Commenting on the completion of the merger, Hundt said: ‘Together we are much stronger. This transaction has brought together Axiata Group’s strength and scale, both Hello and Smart Mobile’s loyal customers, sizeable assets and extensive network coverage.’ Smart’s primary focus will be on the youth and data user segments, and the company also plans to grow in the corporate sector. Operational and network integration is expected to be completed over the next few months, following which the combined network will cover 97% of the population. At the same time, all services and promotions will be harmonised, which the firm says will enable customers to enjoy more attractive call and data packages, an extended portfolio of value added services and a range of new products. ‘Our customers are the ones who will stand to benefit from this merger as we will offer more innovative and affordable mobile voice and mobile data products and services. Ultimately, we aim to be the leading, customer-centric telecommunications operator in Cambodia providing the latest technologies for our customers as well as delivering value and results to our stakeholders,’ Hundt added. Additionally, from today (21 February) calls made between Hello and Smart will be charged as on-network calls and all existing recharge cards will be interoperable.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Axiata reached an agreement to merge Hello with Latelz Company, a subsidiary of Cyprus-based Timeturn Holdings, in December 2012. The combined Smart has emerged as the second largest of seven mobile operators in Cambodia, with over five million customers, not far behind Vietnamese-owned market leader Metfone. Axiata said the merger would provide it with improved economies of scale, remove duplicative costs and enhance revenue potential, and would also result in increased spectrum and significant synergies across network coverage and infrastructure.

Cambodia, Axiata, Hello Axiata Company (formerly TMIC), Smart Axiata