Maxis and U Mobile decline offer to take stakes in Malaysia’s 5G agency: Sources

KUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE (REUTERS) – Two of Malaysia’s largest mobile carriers do not plan to take stakes in a state-owned 5G agency, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters – a setback that could further delay the country’s rollout of 5G technology.

The decision by Maxis and U Mobile comes after the government knocked back a proposal made by the two companies and two other major carriers – Celcom Axiata Bhd and DiGi Telecommunications – for the four to take a combined majority stake in the agency.

The government had instead asked six mobile operators in the country to agree to take up a combined 70 per cent stake in the agency, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), and had set a Wednesday (Aug 31) deadline for that agreement.

Maxis and U Mobile could not see benefits in being a minority shareholder in DNB, according to two of the sources, who requested anonymity as they were not authorised to talk about the private negotiations.

Both firms, however, have told the government they want to remain in talks to sign up for access to DNB’s 5G network, the two sources said.

Maxis, U Mobile, DNB and Malaysia’s finance and communication ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Celcom and Digi declined to comment.

The four companies had said they were not able to justify a minority investment without being able to exercise influence and control at the agency, Reuters reported in May, citing a letter sent by the firms to the government.