XL Axiata sells telcom towers to pay off $865 million debt

The country’s second largest cellular operator PT XL Axiata (EXCL) has officially started selling a number of its telecommunication towers to pay off part of its debt.

The firm officially invited bidders on Tuesday to buy a portion of its towers, which number over 8,000.

“We’re targeting to complete the selling process in the first half of the year and use the raised funds to pay part of our debt,” XL Axiata vice president of corporate communications Turina Farouk told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Turina, however, refused to detail the raised funds target and part of the debt that the firm would pay.

XL Axiata president director Hasnul Suhaimi, meanwhile, said in February that his firm would sell a number of its towers to pay US$865 million-debt used to acquire PT Axis Telekom Indonesia in March.

The firm pocketed a $500 million loan from Axiata Group Berhard’s shareholders and the remaining $365 million from three other banking institutions, namely UOB, the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi and DBS.

The Axiata Group is a Malaysian telecommunication firm that holds a 66.5 percent stake in XL, while the public holds the remaining 33.5 percent.

According to its first quarter financial report, the firm had Rp 60.74 trillion in total assets, while its liabilities and equities stood at Rp 46.27 trillion and Rp 14.47 trillion, respectively.

XL, previously the third-largest phone operator, is now the second with 68.5 million customers as of the first quarter, after acquiring Axis.

The operator is targeting 3 million new customers for its value-added services (VAS) during the World Cup, the fasting month of Ramadhan and Idul Fitri festivities.

The firm expects that all its data services for the three will contribute between 15 and 20 percent to its total revenue in the second quarter this year.

Turina said XL expected to see between a 5 and 30 percent increase in calls, SMS and data during Ramadan and Idul Fitri from its daily average of 510 million minutes per day, 700 million minutes per day and 325 terabytes per day.

“We also have more than 45,600 base transceiver stations [BTS] across the archipelago to serve our customers,” she added.

The country’s largest cell operator, state-owned PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), meanwhile, aims to build 15,000 new BTS this year for its 132.6 million customers nationwide.

“With the better service, we target to reap Rp 6.02 trillion in revenue during the fasting month and Idul Fitri this year, a surge from Rp 5.5 trillion during the same festivities last year,” said Telkomsel general manager of transport network operation Moelky Furqon.

He said his firm targeted to see a 160 percent increase in data traffic, 8 percent in voice traffic and 7.5 percent in SMS traffic.

XL Axiata’s shares, EXCL, traded at Rp 5,250 apiece on the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) on Wednesday, climbing 4.48 percent from the previous day.

XL Axiata saw its net profits rise 20.1 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) to Rp 378.98 billion ($31.8 million) in the first three months of 2014.

It was the first time XL posted growth in its higher net profits after suffering foreign exchange (forex) losses for five consecutive quarters, squeezing its net profits.

Read more: Axis Capital Group Jakarta XL Axiata PT Telekom

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