OSLO/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Norway's Telenor is in talks with Malaysia's Axiata Group to form a jointly-owned Asian telecoms company with close to 300 million customers, the companies said on Monday.
If a deal is finalised, the merged business combining the two companies' South Asian and Southeast Asian operations will likely be owned 56.5 percent by the Norwegian mobile operator and 43.5 percent by Axiata, they said.
The joint company will have operations in nine countries with a total population of close to 1 billion people, including Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
"With its unique portfolio, the MergedCo will be one of the largest telecommunications groups in the region in terms of value, revenue and profit, and with a strengthened balance sheet to support aggressive growth and expansion," Axiata said.
The companies expect to generate savings of around $5 billion by putting the two businesses together.
The annual pro-forma revenue for the jointly owned company is estimated at $13 billion (10 billion pounds), with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $5.5 billion before any savings are realised.
"Telenor and Axiata will work towards finalising agreements in relation to the proposed transaction within the third quarter of 2019 following due diligence," they said.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Sonali Paul)