Alibaba linked to Smartfren investment

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba was tipped to invest as much as IDR1.5 trillion ($100.1 million) to take a stake in Indonesian operator Smartfren Telecom as part of a plan to expand its data centre business in the country.

D-Insights reported Alibaba will acquire shares through a private placement.

Following an agreement in 2021 for Ooredoo Group and CK Hutchison to merge their Indonesian units, Axiata Group held talks with conglomerate Sinar Mas Group, Smartfren Telecom’s parent, about combining their mobile operations in the country, but no deal emerged.

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GSMA Intelligence data showed Smartfren Telecom closed June with 29.2 million mobile connections, up 1.5 million year-on-year.

Market leader Telkomsel ended the recent period with 177.6 million.

Indonesian news site Voi reported Alibaba’s move for Smartfren Telecom would likely face intense regulatory scrutiny, though noted the operator had previous dealings with several of the Chinese company’s businesses.