By Phoebe Sedgman and Narayanan Somasundaram, Bloomberg

Telstra Corp. (TLS) will acquire Pacnet Ltd., which operates undersea cables through Asia and across the Pacific Ocean, as Australia’s largest phone company seeks to expand in the region.

The $697 million transaction, which includes gross debt of about $400 million, will be completed by mid-2015, subject to regulatory and Pacnet financier approvals, Melbourne-based Telstra said in a statement. Singapore and Hong Kong-based Pacnet will give Telstra an expanded data center network, more submarine cables and major customers across the region, it said.

The Australian operator has sold $2.8 billion of assets in the past year, including Hong Kong wireless carrier CSL New World Mobility Ltd. and a domestic directory business, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Buying Pacnet also gives Telstra ownership of more than 46,000 kilometers (29,000 miles) of submarine cable from Asia to the U.S.

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