Singapore's M1 acquires Net player Qala

Mobile operator announces acquisition of local Internet service provider Qala, in move to provide M1 "quick" entry into corporate fixed broadband business, says CEO.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--One of the country's three mobile operators, MobileOne (M1), has acquired local connectivity provider, Qala Singapore.

M1 announced in a press statement late Friday that its wholly-owned subsidiary, M1 Net, will acquire the nine-year-old ISP (Internet service provider) for S$14.9 million (US$10.3 million).

A further S$3 million (US$2.1 million) may be paid to some of Qala's existing shareholders, according to M1's Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing.


M1 CEO Karen Kooi

M1 CEO Karen Kooi said: "This acquisition will allow M1 to enter the corporate fixed broadband business quickly by leveraging the presence and experience of Qala in this market. We will use this ready platform to derive synergies and further grow the business as a full service operator."

Qala is one of Singapore's three providers of the nationwide free Wi-Fi service, Wireless@SG. It is also the island-state's only commercial WiMax provider, through its subsidiary Qmax.

M1 at the start of this year rolled out its fixed broadband service, which the Qala acquisition is expected to help augment, according to Kooi, who assumed the role of CEO in April this year.

The operator has in recent years been eclipsed by larger competitors, SingTel and StarHub, both of which have been able to bundle service offerings with their content divisions, leaving M1 out of the game. StarHub provides a cable TV service, while SingTel has its mio-branded IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) offering.

According to IDC statistics, as at April this year, M1 holds the smallest portion of the mobile market at 26 percent. Leader SingTel hols 46 percent share, followed by StarHub at 28 percent.

M1 also suffered some setbacks, including the departure of its CEO at the start of this year, as well as losing out on both NetCo and OpCo tenders for the country's planned next-generation national broadband network.

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