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SingTel: Israel 'part of our golden plans'

Israel to be a key area for telco to explore partnerships and investments, especially in digital space; plans to provide TV services via smartphones in emerging markets.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

Southeast Asia's largest telco SingTel is eyeing investments and partnerships in Israel, especially in the multimedia space, as part of its ongoing transformation to diversify from its core carriage business to becoming a provider of ICT services.

"We are interested in investing in startups addressing major trends as well as the rise of social and local networks, mobile advertising and the increased need for systems that use smartphone applications," said Allen Lew, chief executive of SingTel's new Digital Life unit, in a Reuters report Wednesday.

Lew, speaking at the annual High Tech Industry Association conference in Jerusalem, added: "Israel is an important part of our golden plans for the digital space. We will be making strategic acquisitions and we will be partnering with companies here."
He pointed out that the telco had set up a S$200 million (US$163 million) venture capital fund, Innov8,
in 2010, which it could tap on to invest in startups.

The telco had been on a spree of acquisitions in the first half of the year--snapping up restaurant review portal Hungrygowhere for S$12 million (US$9.4 million) in May, and Eatability for A$6 million (US$6.3 million) in July through Australia unit Optus. It has also made a push into mobile advertising, with the acquisition of U.S.-based Amobee for US$321 million in March, and Sillicon Valley startup, AdJitsu, for an undisclosed sum in May.
TV services via smartphones
The SingTel executive added that another key focus was in television services, where it would deliver more personalized and relevant offerings to customers. Lew told ZDNet Asia in May at an earnings briefing that he would be looking at investing in analytics capabilities.
For emerging markets such as India and Indonesia who cannot afford TV at home, SingTel planned to offer those services over smartphones, noted Reuters.
Lew pointed out in the article that the mobile phone was the only device they used to access the Internet.
"For many of these people in emerging markets, the only way advertisers have access to them is through mobilephones," he pointed out to ZDNet Asia in an earlier report, referring to how people in such countries were more likely to own handsets than own television sets or consume media through other forms.


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