As part of an ongoing “strategic reset” announced earlier this year, Singtel is joining two foreign partners to launch a data centre business that will form part of a regional digital infrastructure platform led by the state-backed Singaporean telecom giant.
Initially focused on the ASEAN economic bloc, the new data centre business will tap longtime partner Telkom Indonesia to acquire and build assets in Southeast Asia’s largest economy and throughout the region, as well as Thailand-based Gulf Energy to build and develop facilities in that country, Singtel said Friday in a release.
Singtel also revealed plans to sell a 70 percent stake in its wholly owned Australia Tower Network of mobile towers to pension fund AustralianSuper for A$1.9 billion ($1.4 billion), as the Temasek Holdings-owned group seeks to unlock value from existing assets and free up capital to invest in growth areas like data centres
“The rise of digital technology and its accelerated adoption on the back of COVID-19 has had major implications for the physical infrastructure that facilitate and support this overwhelming demand for data connectivity we are witnessing,” said Singtel CEO Yuen Kuan Moon. “From our telecom towers to our data centres, it is imperative that we restructure our assets and re-organise our business to better fund, improve and grow our digital infrastructure.”
Scaling Up With Partners
Singtel currently owns data centre assets with a combined capacity of more than 70 megawatts, contributing annual revenue of over S$250 million ($184 million) and EBITDA margins of over 60 percent. The group said it plans to build and upgrade data centres in support of the Singapore government’s overall plans for the booming sector.
Last month, a Singtel-Telkom joint venture, Telkomsel, agreed to sell 4,000 telecom towers in Indonesia to Telkom unit Mitratel for IDR 6.2 trillion ($440 million) in a cash-out similar to the Australian divestment.
Infrastructure firm Gulf Energy, meanwhile, became the largest shareholder of Thai telecom and satellite provider Intouch — in which Singtel also holds a sizable stake — following an August tender.
“Gulf recognises the future of the digital and data economy, driven by fast adoption of digital technologies and growing demand from both corporates and consumers,” said Gulf Energy CEO Sarath Ratanavadi. “We believe that data centres will be crucial to support Thailand’s growth in the digital economy. We are very happy to be working with Singtel as business partners to capitalise on this promising opportunity.”
Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia jointly make up more than 70 percent of the data centre market in the 10-nation ASEAN community, Singtel said.
Singtel joins a collection of firms busily assembling regional data centre portfolios using the city-state as their home base, including Warburg Pincus-backed Princeton Digital Group.
PDG has deployed a three-pronged strategy of acquisitions, carve-outs and greenfield development to expand its regional footprint to 19 data centres in five countries. The most recent additions include a 22MW data centre in Jakarta (the firm’s sixth Indonesia project), a 97MW hyperscale campus in development near Tokyo, a 48MW multi-storey campus under construction in Navi Mumbai and a completed 42MW campus in Shanghai.
Singapore-based Digital Edge, founded just last year with a $1 billion equity commitment from US private equity firm Stonepeak and other investors, has quickly amassed a portfolio of seven data centres across Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
In May, Singtel’s Temasek stablemate ST Telemedia announced the launch of a joint venture with Indonesian conglomerate Triputra Group to develop a data centre operating platform in Jakarta.
The partners plan to build their first data centre campus at Greenland International Industrial Center in Kota Deltamas, 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the Indonesian capital. The campus will support development of multiple buildings and up to 72MW of critical IT capacity. The first phase of construction is expected to conclude by the first quarter of 2023.