By Soraya Permatasari/ Bloomberg
Kuala Lumpur: Maxis Communications Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest mobile operator, said it will conclude talks with potential partners in the “next couple of weeks” for its Indonesian unit as it seeks to expand in the country.
Maxis plans to sell part of its stake to a new partner after spending $123.9 million (Rs503 crore) to raise its share of PT Natrindo Telepon Selular in Indonesia to 95% from 44%.
“We are in talks with” several parties, chief executive officer Jamaludin Ibrahim said in Kuala Lumpur. Maxis, whose biggest shareholder T. Ananda Krishnan offered to buy out the company in $4.7 billion offer last week, is accelerating its expansion in faster-growing markets such as India and Indonesia to counter slowing growth at home, where 70% of the country’s 27 million people already own mobile phones.
About one in four people in Indonesia have mobile phones, while the penetration rate in India is about 10%. The Indonesian cellular market is expected to grow with as many as 60 million subscribers entering the market between 2007 and 2011, Maxis said on 24 April.
Taking Kuala Lumpur-based Maxis private will give Krishnan the flexibility to drive expansion in the region. Maxis, which plans to expand to more countries, will take up more loans and boost spending “substantially,” after it is taken private, according to Raja Arshad Raja Tun Uda, chairman of Binarian GSM Sdn., the company used by Krishnan to buy out Maxis.
Maxis bought the Indonesian unit in 2005 in its first overseas purchase. Last year, the company also acquired 74% of Aircel Ltd. in India, the biggest mobile operator in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Natrindo posted a loss of 21 million ringgit in the fourth quarter and delayed the start of its 3G service in 2006 to this year. The unit is expected to start contributing to profit in 2008 or 2009, Maxis has said.