Smart Axiata, Cambodia’s leading mobile operator, has acquired a 30 percent stake in digital content and entertainment from Sabay Digital Plus, a move which both companies expect will strengthen their digital leadership position in the country.
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Smart will inject an initial 1.5 million USD, funded through internally generated funds, into Sabay’s digital media businesses to acquire the stake of 30%. The actual amount of the investment into the newly-structured company will be finalized after 12 months, depending on performance of the partnership.
With its popular news website, video content, games and other digital assets, Sabay is one of the most recognisable homegrown companies in Cambodia and works with more than 200 brands to cater to their digital and content needs.
Meanwhile, Smart envisions becoming Cambodia’s digital champion by investing heavily in the country’s technopreneurs and infrastructure, leveraging its network and customer base to support the growth of digital business.
Under the terms, Sabay will fence off its gaming operation to maintain 100 percent control, while taking on Smart as a partner in news and video content, payment platforms, digital advertising and other future digital initiatives.
Thomas Hundt, the Smart Axiata CEO, said the investment in Sabay is aligned with Smart’s strategy for meeting the growing demands of data hungry subscribers.
He added that combining Smart’s data leadership with Sabay’s content will allow both companies to offer more lifestyle value propositions and the partnership brings together two of Cambodia’s most innovative companies in a natural fit that will help both grow exponentially.
“To be a leading player in this perspective market, Sabay is the leading digital media house in Cambodia, and Smart is the leading mobile operators, so both have particular strength and if we put this strengthen together, so a stronger position can be built, that is why Smart is very proud announcing the partnership with Sabay,” Mr Hundt said.
Chy Sila, the CEO of Sabay Digital Corporation, said: “People are coming to consume our content and our products from various sectors and also we have so many different kinds of content that we can understand what kind of content would be fitting,” Mr Sila said.
“Our vision is to give happiness to Cambodian people though digital. Sabay has created a lot of achievements since the last 10 years, and now it is time to cooperate and expand our companies to grow bigger with international standards,” Mr Sila said.
Mr Sila said due to the partnership with Smart, we expect our content will reach more customers as we have a big partner.
Mr Hundt added that the partnership will enable both parties to collaborate and synergize and potentially understand each other’s customer insights even more while still protecting consumer privacy.
“Obviously, exchanging insights and customers is one part of the sense of the partnership, we can buddle Sabay content into Smart and can monetise the content better and we also collaborate in terms of payments, so it is the reach flavour of things we believe we can work together to maximize the value for our consumers as well as for both the companies,” Mr Hundt said.
Smart has been investing heavily in the country’s technopreneurs and infrastructure, leveraging its networks and customer base to support the growth of digital businesses. In May, Smart welcomed Mitsui & Co as their new strategic partner with an established track record of investment and partnerships in the ICT sector, especially in advanced digital offerings.
The $5 million Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund was also launched to support promising digital companies in Cambodia – the first batch of investments is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.