ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Singtel to buy Temasek stakes in InTouch, Bharti Telecom for S$2.47b
SINGAPORE: Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) will raise its stakes in Thai telecom company Intouch Holdings and India's Bharti Telecom for S$2.47 billion in total as part of its strategy to boost exposure to emerging markets.
In a statement on Thursday (Aug 18), Singtel said it had entered into conditional share purchase agreements with state investor Temasek Holdings to acquire 21 per cent of Intouch Holdings and 7.39 per cent of Bharti Telecom.
"Thailand and India are fundamentally attractive markets which are reaping the benefits of rapidly increasing smartphone penetration and mobile data adoption by a growing middle class," SingTel said.
Group CEO Chua Sock Koong added during a press briefing on Thursday that it is the company's policy to increase its stakes in associates when presented with the right opportunities.
"The associates that we currently own are all very high performing businesses. Our ability to increase our stake is also dependent on whether shares are at terms that we think are attractive to us," Ms Chua said. "In this case, we now have a unique opportunity to increase our shareholding to increase exposure to two markets, and two businesses we have known well and have been involved with for a very long time."
She said the company has confidence in the long term performances of India and Thailand. "Increasing economic interests in these investments are risk-reward trade-offs that we are very comfortable with."
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 totaling S$1.605 billion. Singtel, 51.1 percent owned by Temasek, said the acquisitions and share placement are interdependent and have to close at the same time.
During the briefing, Group Chief Financial Officer Lim Cheng Cheng responded to concerns raised about its credit ratings, saying that the short-term debt arrangement it is taking gives the "most optimal, or comfortable debt capital mix for the balance sheet".
Ms Lim said: "Singtel has very strong balance sheet. Our last announced net earning ratio was in the region of 23 per cent and our net debt to EBITDA level is about one times. We remain to have a good investment credit rating."
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and additional reporting by Channel NewsAsia's Calvin Hui; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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Indonesia to launch 13th economic package this month
Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on Wednesday that the government would release its 13th economic policy package in August, adding that the draft had been completed.
Darmin said the 13th package was largely an extension of the previous one, but would expand its focus beyond industry. The 12th package focused on small and medium enterprises.
"We are just waiting to schedule a meeting with the president," Darmin told reporters at his office. He refused to give the exact date the new policy package would come into effect.
The ministry team must meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo one more time to finalize the details, Darmin said.