US clears SingTel/Optus export license issue

Hard on the heels of the Australian government's decision to allow Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) to go ahead with a takeover bid for Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd. (CWO), the U.S. Department of State has said SingTel does not need to seek a new export license for any technology it may acquire in the CWO takeover.

The U.S. decision means that a new license is not required for CWO's satellites, ground support equipment and technical data, SingTel said in a statement Thursday. This satisfies a major condition of the Australian government's approval of the deal.

SingTel President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lee Hsien Yang said that the approval opens the way for the deal to be completed, and urged Optus shareholders to accept the bid as soon as possible.

In particular it means that CWO's U.K.-based parent, Cable & Wireless PLC, can now sell its 52.5 percent share in CWO to SingTel. If it decides to do so, that transaction will be completed next week. Once SingTel has that stake in hand, the deal will be finalized. SingTel has offered to buy the remaining shares from institutional and other shareholders.

SingTel has also received approval for admission to the official list of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and for the quotation of its ordinary shares on the stock market conducted by ASX, SingTel said in the statement.

SingTel has set up a company called SingTel Australia, but the Optus brand name will be retained, SingTel spokesman Ivan Tan said.

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