Axiata hopes to soon ink Celcom-Digi merger deal

President and group CEO Datuk Izzaddin Idris said: “I would like the agreement to (have been) signed yesterday or last week, because what’s important to us is the need to conclude and integrate quickly. The longer it pans out – it’s always in flux and you’re not really together."

KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd is hopeful that the deal on the proposed Celcom-Digi merger can be signed soon, with president and group CEO Datuk Izzaddin Idris saying there is a need to conclude the deal and integrate quickly.

“I would like the agreement to (have been) signed yesterday or last week, because what’s important to us is the need to conclude and integrate quickly. The longer it pans out – it’s always in flux and you’re not really together.

“It is business as usual, and therefore you still compete with each other. From a business point of view, it doesn’t make sense for that to continue, ” said Izzaddin at a media briefing after the group’s AGM.

As for the completion of the merger, Izzaddin said he had been advised that it might take nine months to a year after the deal is signed.

“Immediately after we signed a definitive agreement, that’s when we can make a submission to the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission), and from there on, we’ll have to work very, very hard.

“We have done the groundwork with the MCMC to understand their concerns or issues. We’ve appointed the consultant to help prepare the economic study in terms of what would constitute market share and how market share will be affected by the merger.

“That’s the sort of study regulators need when they evaluate merger proposals, ” said Izzaddin.

On the group’s partnership with RHB Bank Bhd to apply for a digital banking licence, Izzaddin said it is on target to submit the application before Bank Negara’s June 30 deadline.

“The draft submission is ready. We are going to convene the relevant board meetings to approve the submission, and what it is to be done at Boost Holdings Sdn Bhd and Axiata Digital Advertising Sdn Bhd, ” he said.

On the proposed merger between mobile operators PT Indosat and Hutchison 3 Indonesia, Izzaddin said the group is looking at options to retain or consolidate its market share in Indonesia.

“We were hoping that we will be part of a merger with either of the parties but because we’re not part of that merger, we are looking at options so that we can make sure our position in the market is retained, if not consolidated.

“There will be a few more announcements along the way, ” he said.

Within Asean and South Asia, Axiata has controlling stakes in market-leading mobile and fixed operators in the region including Celcom in Malaysia, XL in Indonesia, Dialog in Sri Lanka, Robi in Bangladesh, Smart in Cambodia and Ncell’in Nepal.

Meanwhile, edotco Group Sdn Bhd, the group’s infrastructure company, operates in eight countries to deliver telecommunications infrastructure services, amassing 32, 800 towers.

Presently the 16th largest independent tower companies globally, edotco aims to be one of the top regional telecommunications tower companies.

In a statement, the group said it is evaluating options to raise fresh capital as it has plans in place for edotco, which is geared towards expansion, both in-market and into new territories.

“In terms of new markets, edotco is not in Indonesia, Vietnam or Thailand. So there are real opportunities for edotco to expand its footprint across those countries, ” said Izzaddin.

Axiata Digital, the digital services arm of Axiata, is focused on two digital business verticals namely digital financial services (Boost, Aspirasi) and digital analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The group also said Axiata Digital’s businesses are on path to be profitable by 2022 and their future is strengthened through strategic partnerships with the long-term view to establish two unicorns in its digital financial services (Boost Holdings Sdn Bhd) and digital analytics and AI (ADA or Axiata Digital Advertising Sdn Bhd) businesses.

Meanwhile, Axiata chairman Tan Sri Ghazzali Sheikh Abdul Khalid said the group will accelerate its climate action journey by embarking on the development of its Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap.

“Our sustained efforts in this space has resulted in Axiata’s MSCI ESG Rating of ‘A’, ” he said.

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Axiata , Digi , Izzaddin Idris , merger , Celcom , edotco


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