Indonesian cellco Indosat is considering divesting its tower assets this year to top up its coffers.
“We're currently studying the plan,” Fadzri Sentosa, Indosat’s chief wholesale and infrastructure officer told Reuters.
“By selling it, we will get value from the assets, while if we retain, we could retain control,” he said.
Thee Qatar Telecom-controlled operator has 17,010 towers which could be worth around $1.9 billion, said the report.
Indonesian private equity firm Saratoga Capital – which has much of its $450 million assets invested in telecoms towers and other infrastructure – is eyeing the business.
“Funding would not be an issue as our partners are in a strong position,” Saratoga chairman Edwin Soeryadjaya told the Jakarta Globe.
Edwin estimates Indonesia needs 150,000 towers to meet demand, but to date less than 40,000 towers have been deployed.
Eddy Kurnia, corporate secretary of Telkom, owner of the country’s largest cellco Telkomsel, said the firm has not decided if it would bid for Indosat’s tower business.
Telkom reportedly is looking at buying 12,000 of Indosat’s towers with a view to rolling these assets into its tower arm, Mitratel, ahead of a planned IPO.
The company has secured almost $400 million in loans from local banks to help buy out SingTel’s stake in its tower arm in readiness for Mitratels’ listing.
Meanwhile, third-placed operator XL Axiata has no plans to put its tower assets back on the block.
XL put its planned tower sale on hold last year due to the economic slowdown.
“Right now we are not at all looking at selling towers,” CFO Wim Timmermans told telecomasia.net. “Let the dust settle first,” he said.