Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the president of the Berjaya Group and the single largest shareholder in Malaysia’s fourth-placed mobile network operator U Mobile, is understood to have agreed a deal to sell a part of his stake in the cellco. According to The Star Online, Tan will offload a 33% stake in U Mobile to Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) in a deal believed to be worth around MYR626 million (USD183.81 million); STT is one of the major shareholders in Singaporean telco StarHub. It is understood that talks between the two sides began in September 2009, and due diligence on U Mobile is believed to have already been completed.
If the deal is completed it would mark an end to U Mobile’s hunt for a strategic investor following the announcement in September 2009 that Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and South Korea’s KT Corp were selling their combined 33% stake in the Malaysian cellco for USD200 million. U Television, controlled by Tan, acquired the stake, raising its holding in the mobile operator to 96.04%. Subsequently it was revealed that U Mobile shares had been pledged to AmBank as part of a fund raising exercise for Tan to buy out NTT and KT, and that a put option arrangement had been agreed with Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd (MPHB) that acted as a guarantee against any loan default. This option was for a 41.63% block in U Mobile at MYR280 million for 13 months, starting September 2009, at which date MPHB also acquired a 3.96% stake in the cellco.