XL Axiata offloading more towers to lower debt

Indonesian operator XL Axiata is planning another infrastructure sale in an attempt to further reduce its debt.

The operator acquired Axis Telecom in May 2014 for $865 million, which required a loan of  IDR29.6 trillion (about $260 million at the time). Indonesia’s rupiah has decreased significantly against the dollar in the intervening two years, dramatically driving up XL’s debt and prompting the sale of around 2,000 towers in an effort to raise up to $500 million. The operator is keen to close a deal by the end of 2016.

After taking steps to pay off its debts last year, by the end of September 2015 XL had managed to reduce its overall debt to IDR27 trillion from IDR30.4 trillion. This involved converting a total of $580 million of unhedged dollar-denominated debts into rupiah. The operator has now hedged the rest of its dollar-denominated loans until they are mature.

XL has already sold off towers in order to reduce debt, offloading around 3,500 towers to infrastructure firm Solusi Tunas back in October 2014. The operator sold them for IDR5.6 trillion ($460 million) in cash, most of which was used to pay down debt, with the agreement that it would lease the towers back for the next 10 years.

Indonesia last year saw a massive drop-off in active mobile connections which resulted in XL’s market share falling from 18% to 12%, putting it in fourth place behind 3 Indonesia which takes 16% of the market.

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