Singtel flags $216 mln exposure in Australia tax case defeat

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (STEL.SI) has estimated it faces A$304 million ($216 million) in tax exposure, interest and penalties, after an Australian court dismissed its appeal against an assessment by the country’s taxation office.

The case is related to its acquisition of Singtel Optus Pty Limited in 2001.

Singtel’s Australian subsidiary, Singapore Telecom Australia Investments (STAI), had received amended assessments from the Australian Taxation Office for primary tax of A$268 million, interest of A$58 million and penalties of A$67 million in 2016 and 2017.

Singtel said in a statement on Sunday it had received an “unfavourable judgement” from the Federal Court of Australia of its appeal against the assessments.

The exposures, which factor in a refund of withholding tax, were fully disclosed as contingent liabilities in Singtel’s audited financial statements in prior periods, the company said.

“The Singtel Group will consider the details of the judgment, explore available options and determine next steps. If the above tax exposures are assessed to be probable, provisions shall be made in the accounts,” Singtel said in the statement.

($1 = 1.4051 Australian dollars)