Myanmar coup forces Malaysia’s Axiata to shelve $500m stake sale in tower unit

REUTERS/Samsul Said

Malaysian telecom firm Axiata Group said on Thursday it has shelved plans to sell a stake in its telecommunications tower business due to uncertain market conditions.

According to Bloomberg news, talks between Axiata and potential investors about the sale of a stake for more than $500 million have stalled after a military coup in Myanmar.

The telecommunications tower business, called edotco Group, owns 33,600 towers across Southeast and South Asia, of which 3,150 towers are in Myanmar.

“Given the situation with the pandemic and so on, we’ve decided to not pursue that approach. Of course that remains open, we will continue to evaluate the opportunities out there,” Group Chief Executive Officer Izzaddin Idris said in an online earnings briefing.

He did not address whether the Myanmar coup was a factor in the shelving of the sale.

Axiata has not disclosed the size of the stake it might sell. A fund backed by the Japanese government, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), has also been looking to sell its 21.1% stake in the business and will continue its efforts, Izzaddin said.

The edotco business was valued at around 8 billion ringgit to 9 billion ringgit ($2 billion to $2.2 billion), Izzaddin said last year.

Axiata reported a net loss of 256 million ringgit for the October-December quarter, compared with a profit of 332.6 million ringgit a year ago, hurt by depreciation costs and write-offs of assets.

It also said it has selected a partner to jointly bid for a digital banking licence in Malaysia and aims to make an announcement in few weeks.

Axiata is among companies including ride-hailing firm Grab, gaming firm Razer, AirAsia and lender CIMB Group which are interested in applying for a digital banking licence.

Its shares rose as much as 5.9% after the company briefing.

Reuters

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.