SingTel opens new frontier in S Asia

Singapore, August 14:

South Asia is shaping up as a new frontier for Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) as the phone giant scouts for new profit drivers while some of its regional units face stiffer

competition, reports Daily Gulf News. SingTel’s recent acquisition activities have centred on the subcontinent, where it spent $118 million in June for a 45 per cent stake in Pacific Bangladesh Telecom, the country’s number three cellular operator. In May, SingTel pumped in an extra $252 million to raise its stake in India’s Bharti Telecom from 26.96 per cent to 32.81 per cent. SingTel, however, suffered a setback in its bid to buy a 26 per cent stake in Pakistan Telecommunications, but these moves all showed its determination to tap into South Asia, where cellular markets are still at a relatively nascent stage and penetration rates are low. Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, an analyst with Phillip Securities in Singapore, said it was wise of SingTel to pump up its Bharti stake and enter the Bangladesh market. “There are strong opportunities in India and Pacific Bangladesh is a well-managed company,” Tiruchelvam said, “SingTel has done well investing in Bharti and they are investing in Bangladesh in the hope that the market also shows the tremendous growth that India has shown.”