JAKARTA Feb 7 PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia
, the country's biggest telecoms firm, is considering
merging its tower unit with a listed telecom firm as it moves to
expand its tower business, an official said on Thursday.
The plan, if successful, will create the biggest telecom
tower company in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, where foreign
ownership is prohibited in the tower business and the market is
controlled by only a handful of firms.
Telkom is considering four listed telecom tower firms,
including Tower Bersama and Sarana Menara,
for the merger with its unit PT Dayamitra Telekomunikasi
(Mitratel), but has not yet begun official talks, said Indra
Utoyo, a Telkom director.
"The plan is to unlock the value of Mitratel, which could be
via a merger with listed telecom firms or an IPO," Utoyo told
Tower Bersama is controlled by Indonesia-based private
equity firm Saratoga Capital, which was founded by Edwin
Soeryadjaya and Sandiaga Uno, while Sarana Menara is controlled
by the country's wealthiest conglomerate, Djarum Group.
Other potential candidates are PT Solusi Tunas Pratama
, nearly a quarter of which is owned by U.S. private
equity firm Carlyle Group, and PT Centrin Online
, which is conducting a backdoor listing for a telecom
tower firm owned by private equity firm Northstar Equity
Telkom has hired Barclays Capital to advise on the plan,
Mitratel manages around 3,000 towers and is in the process
of acquiring around 14,000 towers from sister firm PT Telkomsel,
in which Singapore's Singtel has a 35-percent stake.
Asian telecommunication firms, from India to Indonesia, are
selling their towers and other infrastructure assets to raise
cash to pay down debt or fund expansion.
In December, sources told Reuters that PT Axis Telekom
Indonesia, controlled by Saudi Telecom Co, planned to
sell 1,600 towers, worth around $300 million.
(Reporting by Janeman Latul; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and