Report: Media mogul tries to block SingTel/Optus deal

Australian media mogul Kerry Stokes has told the country's Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) that the proposed takeover of Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd. (CWO) by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) is a threat to national security and should be blocked, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported Thursday.

The submission, sent in by Seven Network TV, of which Stokes is chairman, says the takeover would result in a major carrier controlled by a foreign government exercising control over essential communications infrastructure, said the report.

The most concern surrounds a communication satellite that CWO is to launch next year, which will be used for military and intelligence service communications as well as normal commercial communications.

Stokes said that both Malaysia and China have stepped in to prevent the 87 percent government-owned SingTel taking major stakes in Malaysian and Hong Kong telecommunication companies, the SMH reported.

But outside of Stokes' allegations, no independent sources say positively that either of the rejections -- by Time Engineering Bhd. in Malaysia and Pacific Century Cyberworks Ltd. (PCCW) in Hong Kong -- were politically motivated.

Stokes said that FIRB must intervene to protect the strategic importance of Optus's infrastructure -- including broadband cable and satellite -- and the company's 4 million customers, according to the report.

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More about Cable & WirelessChannel Seven NetworkCWOForeign Investment Review BoardOptusPacific Century CyberWorksPCCWSingapore TelecommunicationsSingtel

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