Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics, known locally as KemKominfo, has confirmed that talks are underway regarding a merger of operators XL Axiata and Smartfren.
The operators are respectively backed by Malaysia’s Axiata Group and Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas, and these parent firms have been examining a potential merger since October 2021. Anonymous reports from this period indicated that the groups were consulting advisors on possible arrangements including network sharing agreements.
When pressed by Bloomberg at this time, Smartfren president Merza Fachys said: “Smartfren is open to consolidate or collaborate with other industry players aiming for operational efficiency. However, all parties must get the same benefits.” XL Axiata president Dian Siswarini reiterated that the operator was always open to “consolidate with any party.”
While merger talks have evidently resumed, analysts have noted that Smartfren has a significant amount of debt which could complicate any tie-up between the two operators.