Qatar company 'may sell stake in StarHub'

QATAR • Ooredoo, the Qatari-owned phone carrier, is considering selling its shareholding in StarHub, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company is working with HSBC Holdings to gauge potential interest in its stake in Singapore's second-biggest phone company, the people said, asking not to be identified as the process is private.

A representative for StarHub said in an e-mail it is unable to comment on its shareholder's behalf, while confirming Ooredoo has about a 14 per cent stake via its 25 per cent ownership of Asia Mobile Holdings.

Ooredoo, with operations in South-east Asia from Indonesia to Myanmar, wants to sell its StarHub stake to focus on its core Middle East market and on faster-growing markets, two of the people said.

Singapore is planning an auction of additional frequencies this year to enable the entry of a fourth mobile carrier, with the introduction of competition aimed at boosting innovation.

Officials from Singapore Technologies Telemedia, which owns 75 per cent of Asia Mobile Holdings, and StarHub declined to comment.

HSBC and Ooredoo did not immediately respond to queries.

Shares of StarHub, which have a market value of $6.8 billion, have risen 6.5 per cent this year, compared with the 1.2 per cent gain in the benchmark Straits Times Index.

Led by chief executive officer Tan Tong Hai, the company competes with local rivals Singapore Telecommunications and M1 to provide mobile, Internet and entertainment services to consumers and businesses.

Ooredoo invested in Asia Mobile Holdings in 2007. Japan's Nippon Telegraph & Telephone owns 9.9 per cent of StarHub, according to the annual report.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Qatar company 'may sell stake in StarHub''. Print Edition | Subscribe