Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoCI) has given the thumbs up to XL Axiata’s plan to take control of fellow operator Axis Indonesia, according to Axiata president Hasnul Suhaimi, speaking on Friday. Hasnul told the Jakarta Globe that his company has received ‘a letter of approval’ from the ministry concerning the takeover, although he concedes that the process has a ‘long way to go’ before it is completed. XL Axiata, 66.5% owned by Malaysia’s Axiata Group, is the country’s third largest mobile operator with approximately 49 million subscribers. Axis Indonesia meanwhile, is 80.1% owned by Saudi Telecom Company and has around 17 million users. According to Hasnul both sides are still in the negotiation phase, but are confident that they will be able to secure a deal before signing the conditional sale and purchase agreement. Axis’ shares (including its debt) have been valued at around USD1 billion, with XL keen to acquire all of Axis’ assets, including its employees, brand, subscribers and frequencies. If successful, the combined Axiata-Axis entity would leapfrog the country’s current number two player – PT Indosat – which has around 59 million mobile customers.