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Singapore’s Singtel increases investments in Thai carrier AIS


Singtel is increasing its investment in Intouch Holdings, which is the parent company of Thai carrier AIS

Singapore telecommunications operator Singtel is increasing its stake in Thai operator Advanced Info Services (AIS) through a new investment by its subsidiary Singtel Global Investments.

In a release, Singtel said that its subsidiary is increasing its stake in Intouch Holdings, from 21.21% to 24.99% by acquiring approximately 121 million shares from Temasek’s Anderton Investments for S$330 million ($237.5 million).

Singtel is one of Intouch’s two largest shareholders along with Gulf Energy. Through the new investment in Intouch, which is the parent company of AIS, Singtel will increase its economic interest in the Thai carrier.

Singtel Group’s CEO Yuen Kuan Moon said: “Intouch has been delivering good returns supported by consistently strong execution from AIS in one of the region’s most attractive markets. Our increased investment deepens our partnership with Intouch’s largest shareholder Gulf Energy, and is part of our strategy of actively recycling capital to invest for growth and shareholder returns. At the same time, it demonstrates our confidence in AIS’ potential to build on its position as the mobile operator of choice and become the leader in digital and enterprise services.”  

Singtel noted that Thailand’s digital economy is projected to almost double in four years from US$30 billion in 2021 to US$56 billion in 2025. In addition, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has announced its intention to boost telecommunications infrastructure and deploy 5G technology to create an ecosystem linking government agencies and private sectors as part of the Thailand 4.0 digital transformation initiative.

Singtel, AIS and Gulf Energy are also collaborating to build and develop data centers in Thailand which is one of the three largest data center markets in ASEAN.

Singtel also said that the transaction is expected to be completed by end June 2022.

Earlier this month, Chinese vendor ZTE announced that it has signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement with AIS. Under the terms of the agreement, ZTE will be AIS’ strategic partner to upgrade to key technologies such as 5G.

Also, AIS and ZTE will launch a 5G Innovation Center as a hub for research collaborations and joint 5G innovations, for both infrastructure and solutions. The 5G research center is due be completed by the third quarter of this year.

AIS is currently focusing on expanding its 5G network to cover all 77 provinces of Thailand. The carrier’s 5G network currently reaches 78% of the population, with the aim of reaching 85% by the end of this year.

AIS launched 5G NSA (non-standalone) service in February 2020 using the 700 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 26 GHz bandwidth that it won in the spectrum auction, followed by 5G SA in July 2020 in cooperation with Huawei.

AIS’ customer base reaches nearly 44.6 million subscribers, including 2.8 million 5G subscribers, which represents 6.3% of its total user base. AIS already deployed around 20,000 5G base stations nationwide.

In July of 2021, AIS partnered with Chinese smartphone manufacturer vivo to run 5G Standalone (SA) network tests in Thailand.


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