Category Archives: Axiata

6 Malaysian telcos set to sign 5G deal on August 31

Malaysian Communications and multimedia minister Annuar Musa said discussions on taking stakes in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) are progressing well and are set to meet the deadline, with the six telcos signing the deals on Aug 31.

He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) would be chairing a meeting on Aug 29 to decide on a few terms.

He also had a meeting with finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz yesterday on the restructuring exercise to pave the way for all six telcos to take up the 70% stake in DNB.

“I had the discussion with the finance minister as he was responsible for DNB before it was transferred to my ministry,” he added.

Earlier, Celcom Axiata Bhd CEO Isham Nawawi said the telco had consolidated more than 1,000 sites under its 5G initiative.

It has 39 partners to support its 5G rollout, of which 24 are local companies.

On another matter, Annuar said the Cabinet yesterday agreed that the existing Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998 (Act 589) be amended to provide stronger legal provisions to face cybersecurity threats.

“Hopefully, in the next Parliament sitting, we can table the amendments for both acts.”

Annuar said the amendments are crucial as the country’s telecommunication ecosystem is facing threats of online fraud and hacking by irresponsible individuals.

Malaysian minister wants to issue licences to new players if telcos refuse to sign up for DNB’s 5G access

With 9 days remaining until the 30th June 2022 deadline, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa (Pic) said he will issue new licences to new players if the number of companies participating in the 5G rollout is not enough. The government has issued an ultimatum to the big four telcos such as Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile to take up Digital Nasional Berhad’s (DNB) 5G wholesale offer or risk being left behind. 

As reported by Bernama during the 2021 K-KOMM Excellence Service Awards (APC) ceremony held yesterday, Annuar said negotiations on a service agreement between the telcos and DNB for the implementation of the country’s 5G Network were still ongoing. He said, “I have high confidence that all telco companies do not want to be left behind in providing 5G, which is why we take the policy of inviting everyone to come on board, but we cannot force them to join.

“Any company that participates to roll out 5G, we will continue. If the number of companies is not enough, I will issue licences to new players. I’m not going to wait for anybody. I did say, please think about the importance of the national interest.”

The Minister added, “We want to roll out 5G according to plan and the government has given space for existing players to come on board. Hence, we have set a deadline that we feel is more than enough. Let them complete the negotiation.”

At the moment, only YTL Communications and Telekom Malaysia have apparently agreed to sign up and take an equity stake with DNB’s 5G wholesale access offer but YTL’s Yes 5G remains the first and only telco to provide commercial 5G services in Malaysia. DNB’s 5G network currently covers select areas of Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, and they are expanding into more states including Johor and Penang. 

The big four telcos have been reluctant to sign up with DNB highlighting concerns that the current reference access offer (RAO) does not enable affordable and quality 5G services to consumers. Some of the pressing issues include wholesale pricing that’s locked to a 10-year period and the overall cost to “rent” from DNB is higher than building their own 5G network. It was also reported that the government will consider opening equity stakes for DNB to private equity both private and foreign if the big four telcos are not interested in taking up the offer.

The suggestion to increase the number of telcos doesn’t seem to address the current 5G stalemate as the big four telcos currently command over 90% of total mobile subscriptions and collectively offer 95.5% 4G population coverage throughout the country. Malaysia already has a vibrant and competitive mobile landscape with a total of 9 companies being allocated spectrum to run mobile services. This includes Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile Asiaspace, Altel, Redtone, YTL Communications and TM. On top of that, there are dozens more mobile network virtual operators (MVNO) that tap on existing networks to offer retail mobile services. 

If there’s a new player in town, it will be tough to sway consumers from the big four telcos if they don’t provide coverage improvements. Even with YTL and TM having access to 4G spectrum and 5G via DNB, they are still considered small players in the field as their mobile coverage especially for indoors and rural areas is limited compared to Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile. Since the government has announced the single wholesale network approach, there’s no opportunity for new players to compete in network coverage and they would have to rely on DNB’s network which will take years for it to achieve a substantial 5G footprint nationwide.

Axiata and Digi need more time to complete proposed merger, extend longstop date to Dec 31, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR (June 20): Axiata Group Bhd and Digi.com Bhd need more time to fulfil conditions that have been set out in the conditional share purchase agreement (SPA) signed on June 21, 2021 to merge their local mobile service operations.

The two telcos announced to the stock exchange that the duo have agreed to extend the current longstop date on June 21 under the proposed merger of Celcom Axiata and Digi.com’s mobile telecommunication network operations to Dec 31 this year.

The filings with Bursa Malaysia said that the duo have agreed to extend the date by which the conditions precedent as set out in the SPA are to be satisfied or waived in accordance with the terms and conditions of the SPA.

The extension came ahead of the June 30 deadline set by the government to conclude talks for telcos to sign up for 5G network contracts and to take up shares in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), the special purpose vehicle set up by the government to undertake the 5G roll-out.

To recap, Axiata and Digi.Com announced the proposed merger of Celcom Axiata and Digi.Com’s mobile telecommunications network operations on April 8 last year. This is the second merger between the two companies but it only involves the local operations this time round.

Under the proposed merger, Axiata and Telenor will each hold equal stakes of 33.1% respectively in the merged entity named Celcom Digi Bhd (CDB), which will continue to be listed on the local bourse, and will have a combined pre-synergy equity value of close to RM50 billion.

Axiata would receive cash consideration of approximately RM2 billion, of which RM1.7 billion would be from Digi.Com and the remaining RM300 million from Digi.Com’s parent company, Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor ASA.

In November last year, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said that it had formally received Digi.Com subsidiary Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd’s application involving the proposed merger of Celcom Axiata and Digi.Com’s mobile telecommunications network operations.

Share prices of Digi.Com and Axiata have been on a downward slope. Year to date, Digi has dropped 27% or RM1.18 to close at RM3.18 on Friday (June 17), valuing the telco at RM24.73 billion.

Axiata, whose president and group chief executive officer Datuk Izzaddin Idris stepped down from his role on May 31, has slid 34%, or RM1.41, since the start of the year to RM2.75. Axiata’s market capitalisation was at RM25.24 billion.

Huawei Malaysia And Axiata Digital Labs Partner To Power Digital Financial Services Solutions 

(From Left-Right: Mr Namal Jayathilake, Chief Technology Officer, Axiata Digital Labs; Mr Thushera Kawdawatta, Chief Executive Officer, Axiata Digital Labs; Mr Michael Yuan, Chief Executive Officer, Huawei Malaysia; Mr Lim Chee Siong, Vice President, Cloud & AI Business, Huawei Malaysia)

[KUALA LUMPUR, 15 JUNE 2022]: Axiata Digital Labs (ADL), a subsidiary of the Axiata Group Berhad, and Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Huawei Malaysia) have ventured into a partnership on the development of digital transformation solutions in financial technology (FinTech), powered by Huawei Cloud.

The collaboration will see both ADL and Huawei Malaysia join forces to explore, develop and market new technology and software solutions in the field of digital financing services. This initiative forms the first step in bringing together Huawei Malaysia and ADL in expanding the utilisation of products and services for the Digital Financial Services market growth.

Leveraging their respective expertise, the partnership aims to benefit the productivity and viability of local businesses and industries through the use of digital solutions provided by both parties.

The MoU was signed by Chief Executive Officer of Axiata Digital Labs, Mr Thushera Kawdawatta and Chief Executive Officer of Huawei Malaysia, Mr Michael Yuan.

Commenting on the partnership, Chief Executive Officer of Axiata Digital Labs Mr Thushera said the collaboration between ADL and Huawei Technologies provides tremendous opportunities for two world-class innovators to explore, develop, and work on truly fascinating areas of technology.

“I am convinced that our collaboration will yield digital transformation solutions that will benefit industries, businesses, and society”.

Chief Executive Officer of Huawei Malaysia Mr Yuan said that the MoU serves as an opportunity to further connect and forge strategic partnerships across various industries as Huawei is always open to building a holistic ecosystem with key stakeholders.

“We, at Huawei, are excited to explore our collaboration with Axiata Digital Labs in creating digital solutions through Huawei Cloud.

“This includes FinTech, which is the new digital financial service ecosystem which allows partners to develop applications for diverse industries, laying a robust foundation for ubiquitous digital financial services. This bridges the digital divide between industries and economic sectors, improving productivity across all layers of society,” Mr Yuan said, adding that this will also serve to benefit and drive the nation’s digital economy forward.

Huawei Cloud is a leading a cloud service provider which brings Huawei’s years of expertise together in ICT infrastructure products and solutions. Committed to build a cloud foundation for an intelligent world, Huawei Cloud strives to make a difference in bringing digital to local industries for a better- connected Malaysia.

Axiata expects Celcom-DiGi merger to be done in 2H22

THE proposed merger between Celcom Axiata Bhd and DiGi.com Bhd to form a new entity known as MergeCo is expected to be completed in the second half of 2022 (2H22), said Axiata Group Bhd.

In a stock exchange filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Axiata said the completion of the transaction will be subject to the approval of the shareholders of both the company and DiGi, as well as regulatory approvals and other terms and conditions.

Axiata and Telenor Group had previously announced on April 8, 2021, that they were in advanced discussions to undertake a merger of the telco operations of Celcom and DiGi.

On Nov 24, 2021, Axiata also announced that MergeCo had initiated engagement with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for the merger assessment process in relation to the proposed merger.

“Our board also announced that Axiata has been informed by DiGi that an application to the Securities Commission of Malaysia to seek its approval for the proposed merger has been submitted by Digi on Jan 28, 2022,” it said.