Cambodia’s ICT leaders join forces: Smart Axiata and Sabay announce strategic partnership, Smart investing into Sabay
Phnom Penh, 9th October 2017: Smart Axiata, Cambodia’s leading mobile operator, announced that it will acquire a 30% equity stake in digital content and entertainment provider Sabay Digital Plus Co., Ltd (“Sabay”), in a deal that both companies expect will strengthen their digital leadership position in the country.
Sabay, which means “Happiness” or “fun” in Khmer, is the country’s leading digital content company. With its popular news website, video content, games and other digital assets. Sabay is easily one of the most recognizable homegrown companies in Cambodia and works with over 200 brands to cater to their digital and content needs, through their various platforms. Under the terms, Sabay will fence off its gaming operations to maintain 100% control, while taking on Smart as a partner in news and video content, payment platforms, digital advertising and other future digital initiatives.
“This investment in Sabay is aligned with our strategy for meeting the growing demands of our data hungry subscribers. Combining Smart’s data leadership with Sabay’s compelling content will allow us to offer more lifestyle value propositions. This partnership brings together two of Cambodia’s most innovative companies in a natural fit that will help both grow exponentially,” said Thomas Hundt, Smart Axiata CEO.
Areas where the companies could see an opportunity for collaboration and create great value add include local news and entertainment, video on demand, specialized paid content, digital advertising and payments.
“We see many synergies across both businesses – in our customer bases, platforms, products and also digital talents. Investing in a company like Sabay is not just a ‘marriage made in heaven’ for both our companies but could serve as a model to other investors and entrepreneurs on what opportunities are out there in this young Cambodian market with incredible potential,” Thomasadded.
Sabay was founded in 2007 and has grown to employ nearly 200 people. Co-founder Chy Sila, who started his business career in the Late 90s, has become one of Cambodia’s most respected businessmen – building Sabay from scratch as well as heading up the CBM company which operates several food and beverage franchises in the country, as well as being an investment partner to Major Cineplexes in Cambodia. “We have worked very hard to build Sabay into a national digital market leader. This new opportunity that allows us to have a stake in content production as well as content distribution is a perfect fit for both our companies and it’s fair to say that some of the longer-term results of this partnership haven’t even been dreamt of yet. We are really energized by this new partnership and we can’t wait to get started,” said Chy Sila, Sabay CEO.
Smart envisions becoming Cambodia’s Digital Champion by 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., Ltd. as their new strategic partner with an established track record of investment and partnerships in the ICT sector, especially in advanced digital offerings and Internet of Things. The 5 million USD 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.