SingTel Explores Sale of Optus Stake to Canadian Firm Brookfield

SingTel is considering selling a substantial stake in its Australian subsidiary, Optus, to Canadian private equity giant Brookfield, Reuters news report said. SingTel has owned Optus since 2001.
Optus retail store in AustraliaSingTel, the largest telecommunications operator in Southeast Asia, is in advanced negotiations with Brookfield regarding the stake sale. However, SingTel had earlier dismissed a report by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) suggesting that it was in advanced talks to sell Optus, valuing Australia’s second-largest telecommunications group at up to A$18 billion ($11.90 billion).

In response to the AFR report, SingTel issued a news statement via a stock exchange filing refuting any impending deal for Optus at the reported valuation. SingTel clarified its stance, stating, “We regularly conduct strategic reviews of our portfolio to optimize the value of our assets and businesses and will explore all options to maximize shareholder value.”

Despite challenges, including a network blackout in November affecting over 10 million Australians and subsequent regulatory actions, SingTel reaffirmed its commitment to Australia, emphasizing Optus as an integral and strategic part of its operations in the region.

The talks to offload a stake in Optus come shortly after SingTel’s sale of shares worth S$950 million ($711 million) in India’s Bharti Airtel to U.S. investment firm GQG Partners as part of its capital recycling plan to rejuvenate earnings and share performance, which have been stagnant.

SingTel’s shares surged nearly 4 percent following the AFR report before the company requested a trading halt. SingTel, primarily owned by Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings, reported a mostly unchanged profit for the third quarter, with weak local operations offsetting growth in its information technology and Australian telecom units.