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Malaysia's Maxis Plans IPO

Malaysian leading mobile operator Maxis Communications Bhd. is planning an IPO that will see 2.25 billion common shares (30 percent of its total stock) made available on the Kuala Lumpur exchange, according to a document on the country's Securities Commission Website.

The vast majority of the shares will be sold to institutional investors, while just 7.8 percent of the offering (about 175 million shares) will be made available to individuals.

According to this Reuters report, the IPO will raise about US$2 billion. However, none of the proceeds will go into the carrier's coffers, as the stock being sold is owned by the operator's current investors.

The move comes little more than two years after Maxis, which has about 11.4 million mobile customers (40 percent market share) and generated revenues of US$2.3 billion in 2008, was taken private following a takeover bid by billionaire Ananda Krishnan, who currently owns 75 percent of the stock. The remaining 25 percent is held by Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) . (See Saudi Telecom Invests $3B in Maxis.)

In addition to its domestic business, Maxis also holds a 74 percent stake in Aircel Ltd. , India's seventh-largest mobile operator with more than 23 million customers at the end of July. (See A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)

The Malaysian carrier also holds a 44 percent stake in Indonesia's newest mobile carrier, PT Natrindo Telepon Seluler (NTS), which operates under the name Axis. (See Axis Picks Ericsson.)

That makes Maxis active in three growth markets. India's operators, which are soon to get their chance to bid for 3G spectrum, are still activating more than 10 million new mobile lines per month, while Indonesia reportedly added about 49 million mobile lines in 2008 to top the 146 million mark at the end of last year. (See India Resets 3G Date.)

And even the Malaysian market -- which is "one of the most developed markets in South-East Asia," with about 30 million mobile subscribers and a 108 percent penetration rate, according to a recent Pyramid Research report -- still offers growth potential. (See Telekom Malaysia Faces WiMax Challenge.)

According to Pyramid's forecasts, Malaysia's mobile market, driven by demand for wireless broadband services, is set to grow to about 40 million lines by 2014, with Maxis expected to hold on to its 40 percent market share.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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