CEO Morning Brief

Singtel Surges After Report of US$11b Optus Sale Talks

Publish date: Thu, 14 Mar 2024, 10:20 AM
TheEdge CEO Morning Brief

(March 13): Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel) climbed its most in almost two years after the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported it was in advanced discussions to sell carrier Optus to private equity firm Brookfield for about A$16 billion (US$10.6 billion or RM49.6 billion).

Singapore’s largest carrier gained as much as 4.2%, its biggest intraday gain since May 2022, before the exchange halted trading. According to AFR, Brookfield may bring a consortium partner such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board into a deal that could value Optus at as much as A$18 billion. In response, Singtel said there was “no impending deal to offload Optus for the said sum, as reported”, adding the Australian operation was integral to the broader group.

A deal would mark a windfall for Singtel, which invested in the Australian operator more than two decades ago but has lately been grappling with the fallout from a pair of major security incidents. The capital raised could help finance major initiatives such as an expansion into the data centre arena, a market fuelled by a global boom in artificial intelligence development.

Optus, which competes with Telstra Group Ltd, came under fire last year for a widespread outage that followed an earlier cyberattack exposing the personal information of millions of customers. The incidents helped precipitate the departure of its former chief executive officer. The Australian carrier’s revenue slid 5.4% in the December quarter while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 1.8%, according to Singtel filings.

Optus, which contributes a major chunk of Singtel’s revenue, was one of the Singaporean firm’s more significant overseas investments.

News of a potential deal emerged days after Singtel trimmed its stake in Indian phone carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd, selling more than US$700 million worth of stock to raise capital for expansion into new arenas such as data centres.

Read more: Optus CEO Quits After Crippling Nationwide Phone Outage
(Updates with company’s comment from the second paragraph)
© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

Source: TheEdge - 14 Mar 2024

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