SingTel is reportedly in talks with the Australian government over folding Optus's fixed-line assets into the National Broadband Network venture in exchange for up to 30% of the company.
The Optus assets in question are valued at around A$1.7 billion ($1.34 billion), inside sources told the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The talks will be compete by September, the insiders said. SingTel would continue to own the remainder of Optus's operations.
The asset sale could be the first step towards relisting SingTel's Australian subsidiary on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), the Australian reported, adding the deal would give the NBN instant access to 25% of Australian homes.
“Optus is in a strong position and has a range of options available to it. We don't comment on market speculation,” a SingTel spokesperson told TelecomAsia.net.
SingTel was one of the bidders for the first iteration of the NBN project, which would have seen the government contribute A$4.3 billion, with the remainder funded by a private company.
The government since decided to set up a 51% government owned and funded company to carry out the project - which will cost up to A$43 billion - with the remaining investments coming from the private sector.
Incumbent Telstra was rumored to be considering selling parts of its fixed assets to the project in exchange for a stake in the company, but has yet to comment publicly.