SingTel – BT

SingTel injects US$25m more into associate

Total investment in PBTL now stands at US$143m; stake unchanged at 45%

SINGAPORE Telecommunications (SingTel) has pumped in another US$25 million into Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL) to take its total investment in this overseas associate to US$143 million.

The latest boost came from the subscription by SingTel for its pro-rata entitlement of about 1.07 million PBTL shares.

PBTL is expected to use the additional capital to fund its domestic network expansion.

Despite the latest injection, SingTel’s stake in PBTL will remain unchanged at 45 per cent as the Bangladeshi operator’s other major shareholders have also subscribed to their respective share allotments.

PBTL is a member of the Pacific Group – one of the largest privately-owned business conglomerates in Bangladesh and a major shareholder of Arab Bangladesh Bank. Its other major stakeholders include Pacific Motors Limited, Pacific Traders Limited, Pacific Industries Limited and Far East Telecom.

SingTel said in a statement yesterday the PBTL transaction, carried out through its wholly owned subsidiary SingTel Asia Pacific Investment, will not have a material impact on its financial year ending March 31.

Singapore’s largest operator bought its initial PBTL stake in 2005 for US$118 million as part of its strategy to branch into emerging regional markets.

SingTel now derives nearly 60 per cent of its earnings from overseas through its Australian unit Optus and its six regional associates – PBTL, Warid Telecom in Pakistan, India’s Bharti Telecom, Indonesia’s Telkomsel, Globe Telecom in the Philippines, as well as AIS in Thailand.

While it is keen to add more names to this list, the onset of the global economic crunch may have slowed the group’s acquisition spree. The operator’s last overseas foray was in June 2007 when it bought a 30 per cent stake in Pakistani operator Warid for US$758 million.

SingTel’s group CEO Chua Sock Koong previously said SingTel was not in ‘a big rush to make acquisitions’ amid the uncertain global outlook. However, she said SingTel was constantly looking for opportunities to raise its stakes in current associates.

Besides PBTL, SingTel also raised its investment in Warid recently by US$75 million by subscribing to 174.89 million more shares in the company.

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