QTel wins Indosat legal drama

Confirms 40.8 percent stake in Indonesian mobile operator

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  September 14, 2008

Following a Supreme Court ruling yesterday, Qtel has confirmed that it now owns a 40.8 percent stake in Indosat, a leading mobile operator in Indonesia.

In June, Asia Mobile Holding (AMH) agreed to sell its total interest in Indosat for $1.8 billion to Qtel. At the time, the Qatari firm held a 25 percent stake in AMH, while Singapore ST Telemedia had the remaining 75 percent.

A Jakarta district court sided with the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU), finding ST and its subsidiaries guilty of anti-competitive behavior through a cross-ownership in two of the country's largest mobile telephone operators, Telkomsel and Indosat.

The court ordered that the company either give up at least 50 percent of ownership in Telkomsel or Indosat, or let go of all its shares in one of the companies.

The legal drama ended yesterday when the Indonesian Supreme Court overruled the District Court, awarding QTel the 40.8 percent stake in Indosat.

"Our controlling stake in Indosat is a key part of our group expansion plans and we are pleased that the Supreme Court's decision removes the District Court's order, and allows us to keep the shares we acquired in June. We are currently in the process of launching a tender offer to acquire more of this attractive and important asset, “said Qtel chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed bin Saud Al Thani to The Peninsula.

The Indonesian government has a 49 percent cap on foreign ownership of fixed-line phone companies, which means that QTel can only acquire an additional 8.2% stake under current laws.

"We are still on track to reach our target of being a World Leading Telecommunications company, and being within the top 20 by 2020," Al Thani added.

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