Kuala Lumpur: Maxis Communications Bhd, Malaysia’s biggest mobile operator, will boost its annual spending more than three times to expand high-speed services and raise coverage in Asia as mobile user growth slows at home.
The Kuala Lumpur-based company is spending 10-15 billion ringgit (Rs12,000-18,000 crore) in the next three years to increase its so-called third generation, or 3G, and broadband services in Malaysia, besides expanding network and coverage in India and Indonesia, chief executive officer (CEO) Jamaludin Ibrahim said.
Maxis, whose biggest shareholder, T. Ananda Krishnan, offered to buy out the company in a 16 billion ringgit bid earlier this month, is accelerating its expansion in faster-growing markets to counter slowing growth at home, where 70% of the country’s 27 million people already own cellphones.
The Malaysian mobile market is “reaching saturation,” said Jamaludin. “Maxis wants to become a regional player.”
Maxis may join its parent company, Usaha Tegas Sdn, to invest in Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd, Jamaludin said. Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Japan’s biggest phone company which owns a 35.2% stake in Sri Lanka Telecom, is in discussions with Usaha Tegas Sdn to sell part or all of its holding, Sri Lanka Telecom had said on 20 March. The company will spend 2.5-3.5 billion ringgit in Malaysia, mainly for 3G and broadband services, Ibrahim told reporters.
In India, its unit will spend 5-7 billion ringgit (Rs6,000-8,400 crore) to expand to 23 regions from nine. Indonesia will require 3-5 billion ringgit for network expansion and the start of 3G, or high-speed wireless services, Jamaludin said. The company is looking for a partner to expand in Indonesia and may sell some of its stake in the unit, the Maxis CEO said. The company’s capital expenditure will depend on how much stake it would end up holding in the Indonesian subsidiary, he said.
Maxis is considering various funding options, including vendor financing and debt for the expansion plan, chief financial officer Rossana Rashidi said.
While it is also exploring opportunities for expanding into more countries in Asia, “there is no official discussion yet,” the company’s chairman Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor said.