Telenor and Axiata suspend talks on 300m customer merger

Telenor and Axiata suspend talks on 300m customer Asian merger

06 September 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Axiata and Telenor have dropped – at least for the moment – their plans to merge their Asian operations.

In May they proposed a non-cash combination of Telenor, which would have owned 56.5% of the combination, and Axiata would have had the other 43.5%.

They had hoped to conclude the discussions by the end of September – more precisely, “within the third quarter of 2019”.

But this morning they said: “Due to some complexities involved in the proposed transaction, the parties have mutually agreed to end the discussions.”

However they offered a glimmer of hope for the future. They said: “Both parties still acknowledge the strong strategic rationale of the proposed transaction. The parties do not rule out that a future transaction could be possible.” However they refused to comment further.

Back in May Gunn Wærsted (pictured), chair of the Telenor group, said: “Together, we aim to create a leading and well-diversified pan-Asian telecom and infrastructure company with substantial synergy potential and strong regional operations.”

She said Asia was “one of the most dynamic and innovative regions in the world”, and said it was “Telenor’s strategy to develop and create value from our core telco assets in the Nordic and Asian region.”

They wanted to create a leading, well-diversified pan-Asian telco with operations across nine countries, with a total population of close to one billion.

They wanted to accelerate technology transformation and digitalisation in Malaysia and across Asia, with plans to establish a Malaysian Research and Innovation Centre for 5G, internet of things [IoT] and artificial intelligence [AI].

The Axiata-Telenor joint venture would have had close to 300 million customers, and would have been one of Asia’s largest mobile infrastructure companies, operating close to 60,000 towers across the continent.