AIS weighs options for $3bn in tower assets

AIS weighs options for $3bn in tower assets

Telecom leader might sell stake in tower business or create listed infrastructure fund

Workers perform maintenance atop an AIS 5G tower. (Photo: AIS)
Workers perform maintenance atop an AIS 5G tower. (Photo: AIS)

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

The SET-listed company has held talks with potential advisers for a strategic review of the assets, the sources 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 Stock Exchange of Thailand, the people said.

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

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

Digital infrastructure, which includes assets from towers to data centres 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 sources said. A representative for AIS declined to comment.

AIS offers mobile, fixed broadband, enterprise solutions and digital services to individuals and companies. It has 45.7 million subscribers for its mobile services.

Shares of AIS have declined nearly 14% in value in the past 12 months, as investors weigh its prospects in light of the merger between rivals True Corp and DTAC.

The new entity created by the merger will have 55 million mobile customers but will be obliged to operate the True Move and DTAC mobile brands separately for at least three years.

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