October 6, 2011

CamGSM deal nixed by Telkom


A TelekomunikasiI Indonesia official said yesterday the company had cancelled plans to acquire a majority stake in Cambodian mobile operator CamGSM, just a month after officials at CamGSM parent Royal Group claimed a deal was imminent.

Telkom finance director Sudiro Asno made the statement in Jakarta, saying negotiations were off as a result of price differences.

Although Royal Group chief financial officer Mark Hanna was not immediately available for comment yesterday, he told the Post last month  Telkom's acquisition of CamGSM was on the verge of closing.

“We’re in the final stages of approval right now,” Hanna said in September, adding that delays in finalising the deal had been due to a formal approval process in the Indonesian government.

Indonesian media last month reported a possible acquisition was still on the table, but was snagged in a government-approval process at Indonesia’s Ministry of State Owned Enterprises. Royal Group chairman Kith Meng said he was unaware of Telkom’s decision to drop the acquisition when reached by phone late yesterday.

“I have no idea,” he said, later declining to comment when reached by phone a second time.

David Spriggs, general manager of CamGSM’s Mobitel brand, also declined to comment late yesterday.

Telkom, which is majority-owned by the Indonesian government, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The deal, long watched by the industry, carried on half a year past its  expected closing date.

Announced in November, 2010, it was originally set to close in the first quarter of this year, the Post previously reported.

The Indonesian mobile operator completed its due diligence process for CamGSM in May, according to the Post, and officials from Royal Group and CamGSM claimed that negotiations had been ongoing since then.

France Telecom was also linked to negotiations over CamGSM last year.

France’s ambassador to Cambodia, Christian Connan, said in April he was not aware of any negotiations since the beginning of 2011.

CamGSM is Cambodia’s second-largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers, according to figures from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. It operates its mobile services under the Mobitel and Cellcard brands, and reportedly had 2.9 million users as of July.

Telkom’s planned purchase of CamGSM was part of a one trillion rupiah (US$116 million) acquisition strategy for 2012, according to the Indonesian newspaper Kontan.

Telkom has not announced other targeted acquisitions.

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