Saudi Telecom's Indonesia unit eyes $300 mln in towers sale-sources

DUBAI/JAKARTA Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:03am EST

DUBAI/JAKARTA Dec 14 (Reuters) - PT Axis Telekom Indonesia, controlled by Saudi Telecom Co, is planning to sell 1,600 telecommunication towers worth around $300 million, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

The Indonesian unit of the Gulf's No.1 telecom operator is in talks with PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure and PT Sarana Menara Nusantara who are bidding for the towers, said the sources.

"The discussion is ongoing and it is expected the transaction will be completed by the first half of next year," said one of the sources with knowledge of the plan, who declined to be identified because the talks were not public.

The source said proceeds from the sale will be used for debt refinancing and investment.

Axis Telekom and Sarana Menara were not immediately available for comment, while Tower Bersama declined to comment.

Axis launched in 2008 and has gathered 16 million customers for phone and internet services, making it a small player compared to Indonesia's biggest mobile operator, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia's unit PT Telkomsel, which has 110 million customers.

The deal would be the second major tower sale in Indonesia after the nation's second biggest mobile phone provider PT Indosat sold 2,500 towers for $406 million to Tower Bersama this year. (Reporting by Dinesh Nair in DUBAI and Janeman Latul in JAKARTA; Additional Reporting by Fathiya Dahrul and Andjarsari Paramaditha in JAKARTA; Editing by Neil Chatterjee)