Qatar's Ooredoo said to consider sale of 14% stake in StarHub

The logo of StarHub outside a retail outlet in Singapore, on Feb 3, 2012.
The logo of StarHub outside a retail outlet in Singapore, on Feb 3, 2012.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON/SINGAPORE/DUBAI (BLOOMBERG) - Ooredoo QSC, 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. Ooredoo owns about 25 per cent of Asia Mobile Holdings Pte, which in turn holds 55.8 per cent of StarHub, according to the Singapore-based company's annual report. That's equivalent to about 14 per cent of StarHub.

Ooredoo, with operations in Southeast Asia spanning 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 in the city-state.

Officials from Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte, which owns 75 per cent of Asia Mobile Holdings, and StarHub declined to comment. HSBC and Ooredoo didn't immediately respond to queries. ST Telemedia is a unit of Temasek Holdings, Singapore's state-owned investment company.

Shares of StarHub, which has a market value of S$6.8 billion, have risen 6.5 per cent this year, compared with the 1.2 per cent gain in the Singapore benchmark Straits Times Index. Led by chief executive officer Tan Tong Hai, the company competes with local rivals Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and M1 Ltd. to provide mobile, Internet and entertainment services to consumers and businesses.

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