Thailand’s AIS weighs options for US$3b tower assets

Advanced Info Service Pcl, Thailand’s biggest telecommunications group, is considering options for its tower business including a stake sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Bangkok-listed company has held talks with potential advisers for a strategic review for the assets, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Another option under consideration is creating an infrastructure fund for the assets that could be listed on the Bangkok stock exchange, the people said.

The tower business could be valued at $2 billion to $3 billion in a transaction, the people said. Other telecom companies as well as infrastructure-focused funds have shown early interest in the assets, one of the people said.

Shares of AIS rose as much as 2.8% on Thursday in their biggest intraday gain since September 2022 after the Bloomberg News report. The company has a market value of about $17.7 billion.

AIS was studying the prospect of raising funds by spinning off its telecom towers and other assets, Nattiya Paopongsakorn, head of its investor relations department, said in August 2021. The company owned about 22,000 telecom towers, it said at the time.

Digital infrastructure, which includes assets from phone towers to data centers and satellites, has been among the most active sectors for deals in Asia Pacific, particularly in Southeast Asia, where investors are keen to tap into the region’s growth potential. Telecom providers have also been seeking to raise cash to expand other services including 5G deployment.

Considerations are preliminary, no final decision has been made and AIS could still decide against pursuing a transaction, the people said. A representative for AIS declined to comment.

AIS offers mobile, fixed broadband, enterprise solutions and digital services to individuals and companies in Thailand, according to its website. It has 45.7 million subscribers for its mobile services. –BLOOMBERG

Dayang Norazhar

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