MoF supportive of foreign telcos to take stakes in DNB

The idea will allow more competition among the MNOs and consequently will result in better services for customers, says Tengku Zafrul

by ANIS HAZIM / TMRgraphic

THE Ministry of Finance (MoF) said it welcomed the idea for foreign mobile network operators (MNOs) to take up shares in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) for Malaysia’s 5G deployment.

Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said that the idea will allow more competition among the MNOs and consequently will result in better services for customers.

“We are open to having many more shareholders (in DNB) if there’s any left shareholding equity.

“More players are better for users, especially those with 5G experience,” Tengku Zafrul told reporters after attending the 30% Club Malaysia Board Mentoring Scheme of Women in Leadership Celebration on Friday.

However, he said that the decision on the state-owned 5G agency is under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (K-KOMM).

“K-KOMM and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will consider this matter,” he said.

When asked to name the foreign MNOs who are interested in the state-owned 5G agency, Tengku Zafrul said that he can’t disclose the names as it is not under his power.

“What I can share is — there are big companies with 5G experience in other countries,” he noted.

Nonetheless, he said that foreign MNOs need to apply for a telecommunication company (telco) license to operate in Malaysia before they can own the stake in DNB.

As of now, four MNOs including YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YES) and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), Celcom Axiata Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd have agreed to subscribe to DNB shares.

Meanwhile, Maxis Bhd and U Mobile Sdn Bhd do not plan to take a stake in DNB.

According to Tengku Zafrul, the signing of the shareholder agreement will take some time, probably two weeks from Aug 31.

“There is a slight delay in signing the agreement because in the initial process we have agreed if anyone does not participate they (remaining MNOs) can increase their stake in DNB.

“We have invited the MNOs to take the opportunity to raise their equity holdings in DNB,” he added.

He noted that two out of the four MNOs have to re-discuss with their top management the possibility of subscribing to different amounts of equity shareholdings.

Meanwhile, MNOs that do not subscribe to DNB shares can still offer 5G access via the 5G access agreement.

DNB was established in March 2021 to accelerate the deployment of 5G infrastructure and network in Malaysia and offer 5G as a wholesale network service to other telcos.