Axiata Group Berhad (Axiata or Group), one of Asia's leading telecommunications groups, today marked its milestone entry into the Nepal telecommunications market with the successful completion of its acquisition of Ncell Private Limited (Ncell), the number one mobile operator in Nepal. With its expertise, proven track record in South Asia and strategic intentions to bring long-term national development, Axiata brings together connectivity, technology and people for the broader goal of Advancing Nepal.
President & Group Chief Executive Officer of Axiata, Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim said,“The unique mix of a controlling stake of a well-managed number one player in a healthy, growing market presents Axiata the perfect expansion opportunity of its footprint. The addition of Ncell into the Axiata network of mobile operators marks yet another significant milestone for the Group, in terms of solidifying our strong hold in the South Asian region.
“We are grateful for the approvals from all relevant government authorities involved in the acquisition exercise, both in Malaysia and Nepal. With our proven track record in contributing to national development in markets where we operate, and our extensive experience within the region, we look forward to working with the Nepali government and regulators to further improve the quality of lives of all Nepalese, in line with the country’s ambitions.
“One key ambition we have is to effectively offer high-speed data connectivity, and exciting products and services to meet the demands of a young and maturing Nepali market. There are tremendous opportunities for us to grow with the nation for the longer term. As a Group respected for its commitment to corporate responsibility and governance, we will play an integral role with the Nepali government and civil society, and contribute towards the socioeconomic development of the country and her people.”
Immediate Product Synergies Being Realised
Leveraging on Axiata’s operating strong history in low-ARPU emerging Asia markets, synergies are expected in several areas. In particular, the overseas foreign workers (OFW) segment, where there are approximately one million Nepalese in Malaysia alone, representing opportunities in international calling and mobile-remittance.
In conjunction with Axiata’s entry into the Nepali market, the Group will soon launch two special edition voice and roaming products for Ncell customers. ‘Axiata Roam’, a Group-wide roaming service, will be introduced for the first time in Nepal offering discounted roaming prices to Ncell customers traveling within the Axiata footprint countries and roaming with its operating companies and partners. With its second product, ‘Call Ayo Paisa Payo’, Ncell customers upon receiving international calls from Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lasting for more than five minutes, will receive attractive bonus balance.
Simon Perkins, Axiata’s new Managing Director at Ncell said,“I am particularly inspired to be part of the exceptional team here at Ncell and working together with them in taking Ncell to the next level of excellence and performance. We aim to serve the people of Nepal, focusing on improvements to the network and coverage quality, technology rollout, go-to-market strategies, innovative product development, human resource and efficient procurement processes, based on our experience in similar markets, together with nurturing and developing local talent.”
Through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Axiata Investments (UK) Limited, Axiata completed the acquisition from TeliaSonera UTA Holdings B.V. (TeliaSonera) and SEA Telecom Investments B.V. of Reynolds Holdings Limited (Reynolds). The acquisition of Reynolds for the purchase price of USD1.365 billion plus customary adjustments at closing, effectively secures Axiata an 80% equity interest and controlling stake in Ncell. All the terms of the sale and purchase agreement were met for the completion of the transaction including approvals from all relevant regulatory authorities in Nepal and Malaysia.
Axiata enters the Nepal market with its local partner, Sunivera Capital Ventures Pte Ltd (Sunivera), holding 20% direct local shareholding in Ncell, as required under local law. Local partner transaction completion was a condition precedent to Axiata’s acquisition of Ncell.
“We are pleased to partner Sunivera who is familiar to the Group and well versed with the Nepal telecommunications industry and local business environment. We thank TeliaSonera for the smooth transition of shareholding to Axiata as we look forward to taking Ncell to the next level,” Jamaludin concluded.
The Group now has contiguous presence and reach in five key countries across South Asia. The Group’s combined footprint in South East Asia and South Asia will cover a total population of 2 billion and further solidifies Axiata as one of the leading mobile operators in the region with 288 million customers from its existing 275 million.
As one of the largest Asian telecommunication companies, Axiata today operates in ten countries, servicing approximately 290 million subscribers. With a diverse portfolio in mobile network operations, communications infrastructure services and digital services, the Group pieces together the best in connectivity, technology and people in its vision of Advancing Asia.
Axiata (axiata.com) has controlling stakes in market leading mobile operators in South East Asia and South Asia. Axiata Group of companies operate under the brand name of ‘Celcom’ in Malaysia, ‘XL’ in Indonesia, ‘Dialog’ in Sri Lanka, ‘Robi’ in Bangladesh, ‘Smart’ in Cambodia and 'Ncell' in Nepal. Further to this, the Group also holds strategic interests in ‘Idea’ in India and ‘M1’ in Singapore.
‘edotco’, the Group’s infrastructure company, operates in six countries to deliver telecommunications infrastructure services, amassing a portfolio of over 16,000 towers and 12,000 km of fibre. It aims to be one of the top regional tower companies and is committed to responsible and sustainable business operations.
Axiata Digital (AD), its digital services arm, captures the rapid growth in internet-based businesses through its portfolio of 24 digital brands, servicing growing demands in mobile money, mobile adverting, e-commerce, entertainment and education.
As a committed and long-term investor, Axiata provides employment to 25,000 people within its operations. In line with its sustainability goals, the Group actively supports and drives young talent development; disaster response and recovery; as well as green initiatives.
Ncell Pvt Ltd (ncell.com.np) has been present in Nepal since 2004 as the first private mobile operator in the country. We are committed to being the best local mobile network for the people living in the country. We provide services of international quality with a local touch.
Most of our employees are Nepali and our services are designed to meet the needs of the local society. We are constantly working towards our goals of connecting everyone in Nepal through our Ncell network, providing high quality, modern and cost effective services and creating value for our customers and partners.
On 12 April 2016, Ncell became part of Axiata Group Berhad. Axiata is one of Asia’s leading telecommunications groups with operating in ten countries within the South East Asia and South Asia region. With 25,000 employees Axiata serves approximately 290 million customers. Its diverse portfolio includes leading mobile network operations, communications infrastructure services and digital services. Axiata pieces together the best in connectivity, technology and people in its broader vision of Advancing Asia.
Together with Axiata, Ncell contributes to the development of the country’s economy and infrastructure, building best-in-class networks and bringing people in the remotest areas of Nepal within the reach of communications.