Axiata welcomes talks on delayed Sri Lanka licence

By NG MIN SHEN / Pic By TMR File

Axiata Group Bhd welcomes the talks to resolve the issue surrounding its unit, Dialog Axiata plc in Sri Lanka, which has been delayed since May 2015.

Axiata, which owns an 83.32% stake in Dialog, expressed its gratitude to both Malaysian and Sri Lankan governments for their efforts in resolving the licencing issue.

“Axiata and Dialog wish to record their utmost gratitude to both the governments of Sri Lanka and Malaysia for their assistance to resolve the issue of Dialog’s broadband network licence renewal, one of Dialog’s five main business licences, for the best interest of Sri Lanka’s telecommunications sector,” it said in a statement yesterday.

The telco firm said it has invested over US$2.2 billion (RM8.96 billion) through its unit, Dialog Axiata, to spur the development of Sri Lanka’s telecommunications industry.

The Malaysian company, which has been a long-term investor in Sri Lanka for over two decades, said Dialog’s cumulative investments have made it the single-largest foreign direct investor into Sri Lanka, in addition to being one of the largest corporations in the country.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, who recently met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo during a three-day official visit, reportedly said on Monday that the delay in the renewal of Dialog’s service licence by the Sri Lankan government would be resolved via negotiations between both governments.

Najib was reported as saying that Sirisena had suggested the formation of a special committee, through which representatives from both countries would work to settle the matter as soon as possible.

Najib said the talks were a positive development and he hoped for the licencing issue to be resolved soon.

This would pave the way for an additional US$300 million investment by Dialog, which has been held back due to the licencing matter.

In a separate report by Bernama yesterday, Najib said DADIF, Dialog Axiata’s US$15 million venture capital fund, would be used for investments in Sri Lankan digital startups, and fund the expansion of game-changing and best-inclass digital businesses.

“In 2014, I launched ADIF (Axiata Digital Innovation Fund) here. I am told that this is now the third of such a fund to be launched by Axiata, and it is indeed the most commendable,” he said.

Axiata group president/ CEO Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim was quoted as saying that the company’s investment in Sri Lanka is a testimony of how this event could benefit both companies and the two nations.