SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore Telecommunications Ltd is investing a total of S$2.47 billion ($1.8 billion) to increase its stakes in the top mobile operators of Thailand and India as part of its strategy to boost exposure to emerging markets.
“Thailand, India and Africa continue to be attractive, high-growth markets for us,” Singtel’s group CEO, Chua Sock Koong, said in a statement on Thursday.
SingTel has built a portfolio of stakes in regional mobile associates as it hunts for growth outside its small and mature home market of Singapore.
SingTel said it had entered into conditional shares purchases with state investor Temasek Holdings to acquire 21% of Thai telecoms firm Intouch Holdings PCL. Intouch is the largest shareholder in Advanced Info Services PCL, the country’s biggest mobile operator, in which SingTel currently holds 23.3 percent.
It will also acquire 7.39% of India’s Bharti Telecom Ltd, the holding company of Bharti AirTel Ltd, the country’s largest telecoms firm and SingTel’s existing partner.
The transactions will be funded through internal cash, short-term debt and proceeds from a share placement of 386 million new Singtel shares to Temasek totalling S$1.605 billion. Singtel, 51.1% owned by Temasek, said the acquisitions and share placement are interdependent and have to close at the same time.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Stephen Coates)