By Stuart Condie 
 

SYDNEY--Telstra Corp. Ltd. agreed to acquire mobile networks in six Pacific nations in a US$1.6 billion deal largely funded by the Australian government, which foreign policy experts have said wanted to block China from buying the assets.

Australia's largest mobile communications provider on Monday said government-owned Export Finance Australia would provide US$1.33 billion toward the deal. Telstra said it would contribute the remaining US$270 million and own 100% of Digicel Pacific's ordinary equity.

Telstra Chief Executive Andrew Penn said Digicel Pacific, which operates in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, is a commercially attractive asset and critical to telecommunications in the region.

The move is the latest by the Australian government seeking to limit Chinese influence in the region, particularly in the telecommunications sector. Australia has banned Chinese telecoms firm Huawei Technologies Co. from involvement in its 5G mobile network.

Mr. Penn said the deal would complete within three-to-six months.

 

Write to Stuart Condie at stuart.condie@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 24, 2021 17:57 ET (21:57 GMT)

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