Axiata constantly on lookout for opportunities

KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd, while neither confirming nor denying its interest in bidding for PT Axis Telekom Indonesia, said it was always on the lookout for opportunities.

“We’ve been very proper and are always on the lookout for opportunities, but we are also very disciplined.

“Malaysia is still our core market. Two-thirds of our earnings come from Malaysia and one-third from outside. We hope that the ratio would be more balanced, like 50:50, and Indonesia is now playing a bigger part,” said chairman Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar after the company’s AGM yesterday.

It is reported that Axiata may be weighing a bid for Axis and that any offer for Axis would be made by its Indonesian unit, PT XL Axiata. It is also said that Axis, majority-owned by Saudi Telecom Co, was valued at about US$1bil (RM3.02bil), debt included.

Azman noted that the group had had a good AGM, with all resolutions being passed on an improved financial performance to boot.

“We’re now the third largest company, with RM59bil in market capitalisation,” he said.

According to data from the stock exchange, Axiata is currently the third largest company, in terms of market capitalisation, among the top 30 index-linked counters after Malayan Banking Bhd (about RM85.5bil) and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd (RM65bil).

Axiata shares have gained more than 5% year-to-date. The counter closed at RM6.92 yesterday.

At the AGM, shareholders approved the proposed final dividend of 23 sen for financial year 2012 (FY12), equivalent to a 70% payout, versus a 60% payout in FY11. Axiata also announced a one-off special dividend of RM1bil.

On the likelihood of a higher dividend this year, president and group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jamaludin Ibrahim said it was possible should the company did well this year. Going forward, he said the group would continue to focus on growing its business and sustaining growth.

He said the group had launched its long-term evolution services in Singapore and Sri Lanka and that the next stop would be Malaysia.

“We have started in a small way on a trial basis. It would be a major ramp up towards the end of the year and should be very visible,” Jamaludin said.

He also disclosed that Axiata had “no immediate intention to reduce or increase” its holdings in its 19.9%-owned Indian affiliate Idea Cellular Ltd.

“There are a lot of opportunities and challenges there. We like our operations there.”

In the first quarter ended March 31, Axiata’s net profit rose 8.6% to RM614.5mil from RM565.6mil a year earlier. Revenue rose to RM4.48bil from RM4.24bil previously.

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