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Norway’s Telenor, Malaysia’s Axiata plan Asian telecoms behemoth

Norway’s Telenor, Malaysia’s Axiata plan Asian telecoms behemoth

OSLO/KUALA LUMPUR : Norway’s Telenor and Malaysia’s Axiata Group are in talks to run a jointly owned telecoms giant in South and Southeast Asia with nearly 300 million customers, as they seek to drive up growth in a highly competitive market.

The merged group would be worth $40 billion, including debt, a person with knowledge of the matter said, making the deal the largest cross-border merger in Asia, excluding China and Japan.

Telenor declined to comment and Axiata did not respond to a request for comment on the value of the combined firm.

“The bottom line is we need the scale, we need the synergy, we need the balance sheet, we need the strong capabilities of both companies. If we can combine that it will be powerful,” Axiata group CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim told a news conference.

The proposed deal would combine the two companies’ South Asian and Southeast Asian operations, with the Norwegian mobile operator owning 56.5 percent and Axiata owning 43.5 percent, and no cash changing hands, the companies said.

“With its unique portfolio, the MergedCo will be one of the largest telecommunications groups in the region in terms of value, revenue and profit,” Axiata said.