SingTel in Talks to Buy Stake in InTouch Holdings

SingTel has reportedly restarted discussions to buy a portion of Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd’s $2.4 billion stake in Intouch Holdings PCL, one of Thailand’s largest telecommunications companies, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The parties see an opportunity to strike a deal now given recent evidence of increased political and economic stability in Thailand, a private source said.

Thailand is an attractive growth market for telecommunications companies. The country is experiencing increased mobile usage as incomes rise and the economy grows at a steady clip. Mobile phone and data subscribers are expected to increase to more than 88 million this year.

Singapore’s Temasek, which owns 51% of Singtel, held similar discussions with the city-state’s biggest phone company in 2014, though political tensions in Thailand at that time scuttled deal prospects, people with knowledge of the matter said previously.

Singtel’s investment history

SingTel is Southeast Asia’s largest telecom firm and the biggest company in Singapore by market capitalization. The company has chased growth across the globe to expand beyond its saturated local market.

SingTel already holds a 23.3% stake in Intouch Holdings PCL. If the stake purchase goes through, it would further boost SingTel’s presence in Thailand with access to the country’s largest mobile operator, AIS, where InTouch owns a 40.6% stake.

In 2012, SingTel bought Amobee, a digital advertising firm for $321 million. The company also owns substantial stakes in several telecom firms across Asia, which includes India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Telkomsel in Indonesia.

Intouch, which trades on the Thai stock exchange, currently has a market capitalization of $5.9 billion. Sources have warned that the discussions haven’t been completed and could still fall apart or change.

SingTel has not confirmed this story. However, news of the renewed discussions have been picked up by outlets such as Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Thai news outlets.

A version of this appeared in The Wall Street Journal on August 16. Read the full version here.

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