Malaysian operators close to equity deal on DNB

Malaysian operators close to equity deal on DNB

Malaysia’s communications minister has indicated that an announcement will be made by next week regarding the sale of a 70% equity stake in Digital Nasional Berhad.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa noted that the government had aimed to conclude talks relating to the sale by the end of June, but added that discussions with the six prospective shareholders were proceeding as expected, saying: “They have reached a certain understanding and everything will be concluded by next week, by the eighth of July.”

Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) is a state-backed special purpose vehicle that will operate Malaysia’s sole 5G network on a wholesale basis. The country’s four major operators - Celcom Axiata, DiGi Telecommunications, Maxis and U Mobile – are attempting to take a joint majority holding in the unit after dismissing the government’s offer of a minority holding.

Reuters reports that in May, the operators wrote to Malaysia’s finance ministry requesting a review of the proposed pricing model and access plan for DNB’s wholesale 5G network. The operators have raised concerns over transparency, arguing that a single state-run network would be more susceptible to becoming an effective monopoly.

Currently only Telekom Malaysia and YTL Communications – both smaller players – have agreed to the government’s 5G proposals. Both are also seeking a shareholding in DNB, with Telekom Malaysia Chief Executive Imri Mokhtar noting that negotiations were in their final stages, saying “we will make an announcement once any deal is finalised.”

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