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Telstra and Australian govt finalising bid for Digicel’s Pacific assets -sources

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CANBERRA/SYDNEY, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Telstra Corp (TLS.AX) Ltd is near finishing a deal to purchase the Pacific operations of telecommunications agency Digicel Group in partnership with the Australian authorities, two sources conversant in the bid informed Reuters on Thursday.

Telstra stated in July it was in talks to purchase the Pacific enterprise in a deal that might see Australia contribute the majority of the funding – a plan broadly considered as a political transfer to dam China’s affect within the area. learn extra

“It is fairly imminent. I can’t put a timetable on it but the deal is almost done,” stated an Australian authorities supply. The sources declined to be named as they don’t seem to be authorised to speak concerning the deal.

Digicel, based by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, is the biggest cell phone provider within the Pacific with operations in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tahiti – probably the most profitable being these in Papua New Guinea.

Australian broadcaster Nine Entertainment has beforehand reported that Telstra will spend between A$200 million and A$300 million of its cash and the federal government will contribute A$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion).

A Telstra spokesperson declined to remark. Telstra’s CEO Andrew Penn final month informed traders that any outlay from the corporate would possible be restricted to the “low hundreds of millions”.

Digicel final yr denied an Australian newspaper report it was contemplating a sale of its Pacific enterprise to state-owned China Mobile Ltd (0941.HK).

A sale to a Chinese firm could be a reason behind concern for the Australian authorities amid strategic competitors between U.S. allies and China within the Pacific area.

Australia has ramped up its presence within the Pacific by the creation of a A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) infrastructure financing facility and through its membership of the Quad group – which incorporates the United States, India and Japan – to counter China’s increasing pursuits within the Indo-Pacific.

($1 = 1.3545 Australian {dollars})

($1 = 1.3528 Australian {dollars})

Reporting by Colin Packham and Paulina Duran; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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