JAKARTA, March 14 (Reuters) - PT Bakrie Telecom , Indonesia's fourth-biggest telecom company, sold 10 percent of its stake to Sampoerna's telecom unit, PT Sampoerna Telekomunikasi Indonesia (STI), the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
STI will buy 10 percent of Bakrie Telecom for $90 million in return of 35 percent of STI through a share swap with options for it to become the majority shareholder in the next three years, said the statement.
"Both Bakrie Telecom and STI's shareholders agreed to integrate the two business operations under one management in Bakrie Telecom. The new Bakrie Telecom aims to accelerate the penetration of true mobile convergence offerings for every customer in Indonesia," said Bakrie Telecom CEO Anindya Bakrie.
On March 2, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Bakrie Telecom planned to sell new shares to a partner that may eventually take control of the company.
They said it aimed to raise about 900 billion rupiah ($100 million) from the sale of a 10 percent stake, as the firm struggles to maintain liquidity following heavy investments in its data business.
Bakrie Telecom, controlled by the powerful Bakrie family, was also in talks with South Korea's SK Telecom on the stake sale, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Deal winner Sampoerna Group is an Indonesian business conglomerate that sold its cigarette business PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna to Philip Morris International for $5.2 billion in 2005.
"We share the confidence in Bakrie Telecom business model ... However there appears to be a disconnect in the growth of data communications due to heavy infrastructure investment, lower unit price and slower scaling up due to stiff competition," Sampoerna Group CEO Michael Sampoerna said in a news release.
"With this synergy we can scale up the business faster and bigger in order to better serve and compete," Sampoerna said.
The proceeds will be used to make early repayment of 650 billion rupiah ($70.77 million) of debts maturing in September 2012, the statement said.
At 1048 GMT, shares of Bakrie Telecom was trading at 245 rupiah, up 2.1 percent from the previous day while the broader Jakarta stock exchange index (.JKSE) was up 0.9 percent.