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November 30, 2008

Indonesia Telecoms:
Qtel agrees to up Indosat offer price

Indonesia's capital market regulator said on Friday Qatar Telecom (Qtel) had agreed to lift its offer price to raise its stake in PT Indosat Tbk, pushing shares in the mobile phone firm up 20 percent, reported Reuters.

Qtel is in the process of holding a tender offer for more Indosat (shares up to its maximum allowed limit after it bought a stake from Singapore Technology Telemedia for $1.35 billion in June, which increased its ownership to 40.8 percent from around 10 percent.

Indonesia limits foreign ownership in the telecommunication sector, to a maximum of 65 percent for mobile phone operators and 49 percent for fixed-line operators.

Fuad Rahmany, chairman of the market regulator, Bapepam, told reporters Qtel had agreed to a price of 7,388 rupiah a share.

"But there are still technical problems which need to be dealt with by the ministry of communications and information ... we don't know when the tender offer will be conducted," he added.

Qtel had previously said it had offered to pay 6,416 rupiah for each additional Indosat share, lower than 7,388 rupiah it paid to ST Telemedia. Rahmany told Reuters on October 30 the price must be the same as the previous deal with ST Telemedia.

Indosat's main revenue-earner is its mobile phone business, but it also has a fixed-line operation. Its shares price closed up 20 percent on Friday at 5,100 rupiah, outperforming a 3.28 percent rise in the main stock index .JKSE.

Indonesia's communications minister said late last month that Qtel cannot control more than 65 percent of Indosat and it has to separate its mobile and fixed-line business in two years.

Indonesia's mobile phone industry has seen strong subscriber growth in recent years and the number of mobile phone customers is expected to top 120 million by the end of 2008 from around 90 million last year.

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