SoftBank enters Axiata’s digital marketing arm


“What ADA has achieved over the last four years since it was established has been very commendable. The aspiration (US$2bil business) is a big target but I think with the capabilities, ecosystem and track record that Softbank would bring to the table, we can accelerate or achieve the targets within the target setting, ” said Axiata Group president and group CEO Datuk Izzaddin Idris (file pic) in an online media briefing.

KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd’s subsidiary ADA is aiming to grow to a more than US$2bil (RM8.23bil) business in the next five years, after the company announced an alliance with SoftBank Corp which would invest US$60mil (RM247mil) in ADA.

The investment aims to expand and accelerate ADA’s analytics, data and artificial intelligence (AI) digital marketing business in South-East Asia.

Following the investment, SoftBank will hold a 23.07% stake in ADA, which has a US$260mil (RM1.07bil) valuation.

Axiata Digital Services remains the majority shareholder of ADA with 63.47%, with the balance 13.46% being owned by Sumitomo Corp.

“What ADA has achieved over the last four years since it was established has been very commendable. The aspiration (US$2bil business) is a big target but I think with the capabilities, ecosystem and track record that Softbank would bring to the table, we can accelerate or achieve the targets within the target setting, ” said Axiata Group president and group CEO Datuk Izzaddin Idris in an online media briefing.

Izzaddin pointed out that ADA served over 1,300 clients in the region, and its revenue had tripled since its launch three years ago, while recording positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (ebitda) in the last two years.

ADA’s revenue grew from US$30mil (RM124mil) in 2017 to US$137mil (RM564mil)in 2020, while ebitda grew 175% year-on-year to US$11mil (RM45mil) in 2020 (from US$4mil or RM16.5mil in 2019).

SoftBank Corp director and chairman Ken Miyauchi commented: “This alliance with ADA heralds a new theme in this growth strategy as it will enable us to deploy our digital marketing business outside Japan by leveraging ADA’s presence in Asia as a leading data and AI company.”SoftBank Corp director and chairman Ken Miyauchi commented: “This alliance with ADA heralds a new theme in this growth strategy as it will enable us to deploy our digital marketing business outside Japan by leveraging ADA’s presence in Asia as a leading data and AI company.”

In a statement, ADA – the largest independent digital, analytics, and marketing company in nine countries across South and South-East Asia – said it expects to benefit from the unlocking of significant global synergistic opportunities.

SoftBank, a Fortune 500 telecommunications company with a strong investment portfolio headquartered in Japan will establish ADA as its core digital and data marketing partner in Asia. It aims to leverage its network of portfolio companies in proposing and providing digital marketing solutions that incorporate ADA’s proprietary technologies and consumer AI models.

This alliance also allows SoftBank to expand its footprint in the region. “We are delighted to welcome SoftBank as a business partner and co-shareholder to ADA. Together with our existing Sumitomo partnership, we can expect this strategic alliance to further fuel ADA’s growth momentum within the region as it unlocks synergistic opportunities that will form one of the pillars to deliver on Axiata’s Digital Champion ambition, ” stated Izzaddin.

Meanwhile, SoftBank Corp director and chairman Ken Miyauchi commented: “This alliance with ADA heralds a new theme in this growth strategy as it will enable us to deploy our digital marketing business outside Japan by leveraging ADA’s presence in Asia as a leading data and AI company.”

ADA’s CEO Srinivas Gattamneni added, “The post-Covid norm is a ‘digital-first’ economy, which ADA has been successfully building towards.” Gattamneni said a lot of the US$60mil investment by SoftBank would go towards building technology and intellectual property (IP) which will fundamentally transform the digital marketing industry.

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