SingTel to invest USD1.8b in Thailand and India groups

singtelSINGAPORE: Singapore Telecom said Thursday it will spend $1.8 billion to take a stake in Thailand’s Intouch and raise its share of India’s Bharti, boosting its access to fast-growing Asian and African mobile markets.

SingTel, Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom group by revenue, will acquire 21 percent of Intouch and an additional 7.39 percent in Bharti Telecom from state-linked investment company Temasek.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to deepen our relationships with two great market leaders,” Singtel chief executive Chua Sock Koong said in a statement.

Intouch is the largest shareholder in Thailand’s top mobile operator Advanced Info Services (AIS).

Bharti Telecom Limited is the holding company of Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecommunications company.

The two operators have a combined mobile customer base of more than 380 million people across Asia and Africa, SingTel said.

Singtel also holds stakes in mobile operators in the Philippines and Indonesia, and has a wholly owned subsidiary in Australia called Optus.

Last week the company said a slight increase in its first-quarter net profit to Sg$944 ($702 million) was due to robust mobile data usage and strong contributions from its regional associates.

The deals are subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and expected to be completed by December.