Singtel to fork out $1.8B for higher stakes in India, Thailand telecom markets

The Singapore telco is acquiring shares in India's Bharti Telecom and Thailand's Intouch Holdings as part of efforts to bolster its presence in the region's "high-performing associates".

Singtel says it is acquiring shares in India's Bharti Telecom and Thailand's Intouch Holdings for a total investment of S$2.47 billion (US$1.84 billion).

The all-cash transactions would see the Singapore telco gain 21 percent of Intouch shares and 7.39 percent in Bharti, but were still subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. According to Singtel, the move was part of its efforts to expand its presence in "high-performing associates" of its telco portfolio in the region.

Intouch was the largest shareholder in Thailand's biggest mobile operator Advanced Info Services, which had been affiliated with Singtel after the latter in 1999 purchased stakes in the company. The Singapore telco also previously acquired shares in Bharti's telecom business, Bharti Airtel, in 2000.

Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said: "Today, they have a combined mobile customer base of more than 380 million across Asia and Africa. This is a unique opportunity for us to deepen our relationships with two great market leaders."

The telco said Thailand and India were attractive markets that had been seeing increasing smartphone penetration and mobile data adoption amongst their growing middle class.

Chua described the two Asian markets alongside Africa as "attractive, high-growth markets" for Singtel.