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Axiata Group looks to trim stakes in overseas operations

Sept 14, 2016 (LBO) – Axiata Group Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest mobile-phone operator, is seeking to trim stakes in some of its overseas operations, a report said.

The Kuala Lumpur-based company is seeking a buyer for about 11 percent of Indonesian unit PT XL Axiata, which has a market value of 2.2 billion, dollars according to sources, Bloomberg reported.

It is also selling as much as 30 percent each of listed Sri Lanka unit Dialog Axiata Plc and closely held Cambodian subsidiary Smart Axiata Co., the sources added.

Total debt at Axiata has risen 55 percent since the end of 2014 to reach 21.5 billion ringgit ($5.2 billion) at the end of June, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Axiata, which has interests in 10 countries across Asia, will use part of the proceeds from the divestments to cut borrowings, the people said.

Axiata continuously reviews various strategic options to enhance shareholders’ value, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Since the middle of last year Axiata has been exploring options including rebalancing its portfolio and reviewing its shareholdings across subsidiaries, according to the statement.

The Malaysian company owns 83.3 percent of Dialog Axiata in Sri Lanka and 95.3 percent of Cambodian subsidiary Smart Axiata, according to its annual report. It also owns 66.4 percent of its Indonesian unit XL Axiata, whose shares have fallen 26 percent this year.

Axiata also has operations in Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as minority stakes in Singapore telecommunications firm M1 Ltd. and Indian wireless carrier Idea Cellular Ltd. In April, Axiata completed the $1.4 billion acquisition of an 80 percent stake in Nepal’s Ncell Pvt.