Maxis may favour SingTel, says report

Malaysia's biggest mobile network operator Maxis Communication may be leaning towards Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) as its strategic partner, according to The Business Times today.

KUALA LUMPUR--Malaysia's biggest mobile network operator Maxis Communication may be leaning towards Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) as its strategic partner, according to The Business Times today.

The report, citing unnamed sources, speculated that since the two telcos were believed to have had a series of meetings lately, SingTel may be eyeing an equity stake in the local telco.

It is no secret that SingTel has long eyed a presence in the Malaysian telecommunications sector. It made a bid for a share of Maxis in 1998, but lost out to British Telecommunications (BT) which paid RM1.8 billion for a 33.3 percent stake in the local telco.

Under BT's guidance, Maxis surged forward to become the nation's largest network operator with about 1.87 million subscribers.

Due to mounting debts, however, BT pulled out of Maxis this year and sold its stake in the company to Usaga Tegas, a private holdings of billionaire Ananda Krishnan for RM1.9 billion. The sale gave Ananda a 70-odd percent stake in the telco.

SingTel has declared its ambitions to become a leading telco player in Asia and as part of this plan, has bid for Australia's Cable & Wireless Optus and has already stakes in Thailand's Advance Info Service, the Philippines' GlobeTelecom and India's Bharti Group.

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