Malaysia: New August 31 deadline for telcos to agree on DNB stake sale terms

Malaysia’s mobile network operators (MNOs) have until Aug 31 to agree on the terms related to the acquisition of shares in 5G network provider Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying.

In the report on Monday (Aug 15), the Malay Mail cited that the MNOs will have to agree to the terms by the new deadline or risk losing out on 5G access.

The government previously set a June 30 deadline for the telcos to agree on the 70% stake purchase in DNB, a company owned by the Ministry of Finance, or the 5G spectrum will be opened up to international players.

Following the telcos’ principal acceptance at the time, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said official announcements would be made in the following week, but it is understood there were further back-and-forth ironing out the related conditions.

In the report on Monday, Tengku Zafrul was quoted as saying that while it is very hard not to allow foreign players to come in to raise competition and potentially lower the service prices offered, local telcos should be given the first bite.

“I think we have to give them (local telcos) an opportunity to continue to be the main players as they have invested so much,” Tengku Zafrul was quoted as saying.

DNB is the company which will be owning the 5G assets in the country and which will lease the assets to local telcos under a single wholesale network (SWN) model — a change from previous models where each telco can develop their own assets focusing in high-traffic areas.

The DNB stake sale was a compromise given by the government to the local operators after a proposal by the big four MNOs belonging to Maxis Bhd, U Mobile Sdn Bhd, Digi.Com Bhd, and Axiata Group Bhd (for Celcom) to introduce a second 5G wholesale operator under a dual wholesale network model.

Aside from the big four telcos, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (for Unifi Mobile) and YTL Power International Bhd (for Yes 5G) have also given the nod to acquire a stake in DNB.

Telekom Malaysia has joined the 5G network pilot with DNB, while YTL Power has already launched its 5G services in late May to claim first place in rolling out the network in the country.

At the time of writing, Maxis shares were up three sen or 0.79% to RM3.82. Other telco counters also rose, including Digi (up one sen or 0.27% at RM3.69), Axiata (up five sen or 1.72% to RM2.95), Telekom Malaysia (up one sen or 0.18% to RM5.59), while YTL Power shares fell half a sen or 0.68% to 73 sen. 

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