Partnerships rather than acquisitions hold the key to expansion in Hong Kong for Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) in the coming year, according to chief executive Lee Hsien Yang. Singapore's dominant carrier has made big acquisitions in Asia in the past two years, but Mr Lee said it was not in talks to buy Hong Kong carriers and did not plan to obtain a full telecoms licence in Hong Kong after full deregulation next year. 'We do not expand purely by acquisitions. A lot of activities in Hong Kong have been through organic growth. We would look for opportunities in Hong Kong that make sense,' he said yesterday. However, partnerships were part of the picture. 'We work with many operators in Hong Kong, including PCCW and New T&T,' Mr Lee said. His comments came after his company announced it was investing US$20 million in Hong Kong over the next 12 months to develop two data centres. SingTel operates 10 data centres - used for hosting data services for multinational corporations under its brand, Expan - in Singapore, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It provides managed hosting services in the mainland through a partnership with China Telecom and China NetCom. Mr Lee said up to 70 per cent of multinational companies in the region would outsource at least part of their information-technology operations to a third party by next year. Revenue contribution from Hong Kong was about S$80 million (about HK$339.1 million), according to executive vice-president Lim Chuan Poh. SingTel has 100 employees in Hong Kong, mainly for its data centre and undersea-cable operator, C2C. It has conducted business via the Hong Kong networks of New T&T and CyberWorks. Mr Lee tried to play down his meeting with CyberWorks chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai, who went to see him before SingTel hosted an industry conference. 'It was two-minute [meeting between us]. He wished me well, and we wished him well,' Mr Lee said.