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5G networks

Four Malaysian telecoms agree to take stakes in 5G agency

Deal comes after two carriers drop out, disrupting government's plan

People use their mobile phones at a university in Semenyih, Malaysia.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Four of Malaysia's major telecommunications companies have agreed to take stakes in government-owned 5G agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the agency said on Friday.

The announcement comes after months of delayed talks between the firms and the government, which in February had offered 70% of DNB's stake to six operators in a bid to resolve an impasse over the agency's 5G pricing and rollout plans.

Two major operators -- Maxis and U Mobile -- dropped out of the negotiations in August, disrupting the government's plans to sign agreements with the other carriers, Reuters had reported.

DNB said in a statement four companies -- Celcom Axiata, DiGi Telecommunications, YTL Communications, and Telekom Malaysia -- had agreed to take up a total of 65% equity in the agency, with the government holding the remaining 35%.

The government's "Golden Share" would grant it various rights and privileges, and covers areas such as ownership, sale, or transfer of shares, DNB said.

YTL Communications and Telekom Malaysia would each take 20% equity in DNB, while Celcom Axiata and Digi Telecommunications would take a 12.5% stake each, ahead of a proposed merger between the latter two companies.

DiGi said in a statement its stake would increase to 17.5% to be equal to the other three operators in the event the merger was not completed by mid-2023.

The proposed merger was given the green light by Malaysian regulators earlier this year.

DNB said it was expected that the operators will make 5G services available to their end users from this month onwards, though it was still in talks with carriers on agreements to use the agency's network.

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