Malaysia-based Axiata Group is said to be considering a bid for mobile network operator PT Axis Telekom Indonesia, according to unnamed sources who claim to have knowledge of the matter. The three people, who wish to remain anonymous as the information is ‘private’, claim that the takeover bid could be mounted through Axiata’s Indonesian unit PT XL Axiata, the country’s third largest cellco by subscribers. Acquiring number five player Axis Indonesia would give XL Axiata additional mobile frequencies while also hastening much needed consolidation in southeast Asia’s crowded wireless market, one source said.
Axis Indonesia is 80.1% owned by Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and has a market valuation of around USD1 billion including debt, according to an estimate from Saudi Fransi Capital. Malaysia’s Maxis Communications also holds a minority 14.9% stake in the company, which TeleGeography notes has around 17.7 million mobile customers. Local shareholder PT Harmersha Investindo (PTHI) is understood to hold roughly 5% of Axis. Although a spokesperson for Axiata declined to comment on the rumour, it is noteworthy that at the start of this month its president Hasnul Suhaimi said XL Axiata would be ‘happy to play a role’ in the consolidation of the domestic wireless market. Any deal would however, require a green light from the Indonesian government which owns shares in the nation’s two largest telcos – PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom Indonesia) and PT Indosat.