China Mobile may have held talks for Axiata stake

Dylan Bushell-Embling
telecomasia.net

China Mobile is said to have been interested in acquiring up to a 20% stake in Malaysia-based Axiata Group, but its offer has been rebuffed.

China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator by subscribers, has held talks with Axiata and its largest shareholder regarding a purchase of a minority stake, Bloomberg reported citing sources.

But according to the sources, no agreement was reached because Axiata is unwilling to sell such a high stake and considered the offer price to be too low.

The report states that it is unclear how much China Mobile offered for the stake, but notes that a 20% stake in Axiata would be worth around $3.7 billion based on the company's trading price.

If such a deal is arranged after all, it will be China Mobile's largest investment outside of China to date, and would dwarf the $880 million the operator paid for an 18% stake in Thailand's True Corp in June. It would also be the biggest telecom deal in SEA since 2007.

But both China Mobile and Axiata declined to comment on the rumored deal when approached by Bloomberg.

China Mobile has been pursuing overseas expansion to sustain its growth momentum. In May, the operator was rumored to be considering partnering with or acquiring a US operator as part of these plans.

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