Axiata eyeing deals as Asia cellphone market booms
Axiata, valued at close to $19 billion and with a cash pile of $2.8 billion, is expanding in the fast-growing Asian telecoms sector as Jamaludin nips at the heels of Southeast Asian market leader Singapore Telecommunications Ltd and India's Bharti Airtel Ltd.
Its expansion comes at atime of surging demand for smartphones as Asian consumers' spending power grows and relatively untapped economies such as Myanmar and Laos open up for business. Consumers in the seven major Southeast Asian countries spent nearly $14 billion on mobile phones in the year to September, according to market research firm GfK Asia. Smartphone sales surged 78 percent.
Axiata, which already has more than 200 million subscribers, agreed last month to pay around $155 million for Cambodia's Latelz Co Ltd, creating the country's No.2 mobile firm with 5 million subscribers.
"That's a good reflection of what we intend to do," Jamaludin told Reuters at Axiata's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur late on Tuesday. "It can be a small company, it can be a relatively large company. Generally what we would like to do is consolidation."
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia - where Axiata spent more than half its record 5.4 billion ringgit ($1.8 billion) capital expenditure last year - were the most likely candidates for similar deals, Jamaludin said.
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