Details of the third player reportedly interested in acquiring Malaysian internet service provider (ISP) have emerged. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month it was claimed that a trio of companies were eyeing the broadband operator, but at that time only two of those were named: Puncak Semangat, a company controlled by billionaire Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, and CMC Engineering. Now, the Star Online is reporting that Optinet Technology is the final piece of the bidding puzzle, with the special purpose vehicle representing four local companies: Melaka ICT Holdings, Ersatech, Dignity First and Jom Mobile. It is understood that all four entities making up the SPV have conducted due diligence on Jaring, with all agreeing that it has significant growth potential. Optinet director Shaharom Md Shariff was cited by the report as saying: ‘Jaring provides the best skill sets, network and licences for Optinet to move ahead as our vision is to provide broadband services to consumers and get into the content business where we want to push content to users.’
Alongside the disclosure of the identity of the third bidder, the report also claims that Puncak Semangat submitted its acquisition proposal to Ministry of Finance (MoF), which currently wholly-owns Jarin, around two weeks ago. The other two bidders are thought to have put forward their bids in March 2012.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Jaring was launched as Malaysia’s first ISP in 1992. Efforts to divest the operator have been made before, with fixed line incumbent Telekom Malaysia reported to have expressed an interest in acquiring it as far back as 2001. TIME dotCom was also thought to have been considering a bid a few years back, but despite submitting an offer for the ISP as part of a tender exercise conducted by the MoF in 2007/08, no deal was struck amid suggestions that pricing and policy issues had hindered the sale. At that date it was understood that bids for Jaring had ranged between MYR15 million and MYR27 million (USD4.75 million and USD8.45 million).