M1 shareholders exploring sale of their stakes

The logo of M1 is spotted next to M1 building.
The logo of M1 is spotted next to M1 building. PHOTO: M1

SINGAPORE - The three major shareholders of M1, who together hold a 61 per cent interest in the telco, are undertaking a strategic review of their respective stakes.

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which holds a 13.38 per cent stake in the company, said on Friday evening (March 17) that it has, together with Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation (Keppel T&T) and Axiata Group Berhad, jointly appointed Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) as financial adviser to assist with the strategic review.

"There is no assurance that any transaction will materialise from such strategic review or that any definitive or binding agreement will be reached," it said.

Malaysian telco Axiata is the biggest shareholder in M1 with a 29 per cent stake, while Keppel T&T has a 19 per cent holding. No reason was given for the strategic review.

M1 is the smallest of Singapore's three telecom operators, the others being Singtel and StarHub. They are set to be joined by Australia's TPG Telecom, which won the bid last year to be the fourth telco.

M1 shares rose as much as 12.8 per cent in Singapore on Friday afternoon, the biggest intraday gain since 2008 according to Bloomberg, before the company requested a trading halt. The counter ended up 7.9 per cent at S$2.19.

SPH and Keppel T&T also called for trading halts late Friday afternoon.

Separately on Friday, M1 announced that its chief financial officer (CFO), Nicholas Tan Kok Peng, has resigned to "pursue other interests".

Mr Lee Kok Chew, who was previously M1's CFO from May 2010 to February 2014, will take over, the company said in a filing with the Singapore Exchange. His new appointment will take effect from March 20, 2017.

Mr Lee will continue to also hold his current position as M1's chief commercial officer.