SingTel pays $600M to enter Indonesia's mobile market

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) has continued its push to become Southeast Asia's first regional mobile phone operator with the purchase of 22.3 percent stake in Indonesia's largest operator PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel).

The stake, worth US$602 million, was bought from Dutch operator Koninklijke KPN NV, SingTel said in a statement Thursday. Indonesia's national carrier PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk. (PT Telkom) owns the remaining 77.7 percent stake.

The addition to SingTel's mobile phone stable of Telkomsel, which has 2.2 million GSM900 and GSM1800 subscribers, gives SingTel and its associated companies a presence in six countries -- Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Australia and Indonesia.

Despite Indonesia's extremely weak economic performance over the past two years, the number of mobile phone subscribers is growing at 82 percent per year, making it an attractive high-growth market and one that is central to SingTel's regional expansion plans, according to SingTel President and CEO Lee Hsien Yang.

Indonesia still has very low mobile phone penetration, especially when compared to SingTel's saturated home market where more than half of the population own a mobile phone. Around 4.6 million Indonesians have mobile phone subscriptions, 2.2 percent of the country's estimated 210 million citizens.

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