Axiata Group Bhd, the biggest Malaysian mobile operator, is nearing a deal to acquire Veon Ltd’s Pakistan wireless towers for around US$1bil, people familiar with the matter said.
Edotco Group Sdn Bhd, Axiata’s infrastructure arm, plans to announce an agreement as soon as this week, according to the people. The purchase of about 13,000 towers will make Edotco the biggest independent telecommunications tower operator in the South Asian nation, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
The planned acquisition would help Kuala Lumpur-based Axiata further expand its infrastructure business outside its home market of Malaysia.
Axiata wants to increase its phone towers in South-East Asia and South Asia to 26,000 from 16,000 within three years and eventually list the operations, chief executive officer Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim said in an interview last year.
Veon, the wireless carrier formerly known as VimpelCom Ltd, said earlier this month it was in advanced talks to sell its Pakistan tower business to an unnamed buyer. A deal could come as soon as the second half of this year, Veon chief executive officer Jean-Yves Charlier told Bloomberg.
A representative for Edotco said he couldn’t immediately comment, while a spokesman for Veon’s Pakistan unit declined to comment
On Aug 3, edotco Group completed the acquisition of a telecommunications tower company in Pakistan for US$88.9 mil (RM381mil).
Through its unit edotco Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, the group entered into an agreement with Tower Share Ltd to acquire the latter’s entire stake in Tanzanite Tower Private Ltd.
Axiata had said the acquisition would allow edotco to expand its presence in Pakistan with a sizeable portfolio of about 700 towers with a strategic split of 97% urban and 3% rural, providing tenancies to all major operators.
“This opportunity is in line with edotco’s plans to scale up its Pakistan operations and makes it the largest independent tower company in the country. This puts edotco in a strong position to accelerate its tower build out and take advantage of further acquisition and consolidation opportunities,” Axiata had told Bursa then.
Source: The Star