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Mobile

Mobile Subscriber Growth Boosts Telekom Malaysia

Telekom Malaysia Bhd. boosted its revenues during the first quarter as it looks to add more operators to its stable of emerging markets investments.

Revenues for the quarter climbed 10.6 percent year on year to 4.62 billion Malaysian Ringgits, largely on the back of growth in its mobile operations.

Net profit was MYR 519.7 million ($160 million), 12.8 percent lower than the MYR595.71 million ($183.4 million) reported a year ago, due to higher operating expenses.

The state-run carrier spun off its emerging markets mobile operators into a separate business in April, listing it on the Bursa Malaysia stock exchange as TM International Bhd. (TMI). Telekom Malaysia was relisted as a fixed-line business.

The new international unit accounted for MYR1.39 billion ($429.79 million) of the revenues for the quarter, up 26.3 percent from MYR1.11 billion ($342.4 million) in the year-ago quarter.

Growth was led by Indonesian operator PT Excelcomindo Pratama , which racked up a 58 percent increase in revenues due to higher subscriber numbers. Indonesia ranks third by subscriber growth in Light Reading's Top 10 Emerging Mobile Markets 2007 report.

TM International has controlling stakes in mobile operators in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, and holds minority stakes in operators in India, Singapore, and Iran, as well as non-mobile businesses in Pakistan and Thailand.

Telkom’s domestic mobile business, Celcom Malaysia , reported revenues separate from TMI of MYR1.8 billion ($407.34 million), compared with ($365.01 million) last year.

Celcom comes under the TM International umbrella for now, but the plan is for it to begin trading on the stock exchange during the second quarter.

The de-merger of the international operators allows Telekom Malaysia’s remaining fixed-line business to focus on a 15.2 billion ($4.68 billion) high-speed broadband project awarded by the Malaysian government that aims to boost broadband penetration from 18 percent of homes to 50 percent by 2010.

TM International will concentrate on expansion abroad, in a bid to counteract competition at home from Maxis Communications Bhd. , which is now Malaysia’s largest mobile provider.

TMI, led by former Maxis CEO Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim, is considering several acquisitions in Southeast Asia and South Asia, and may be among the bidders for Iran’s third national mobile license. It holds a 49 percent stake in regional mobile operator Mobile Telecommunications Company of Esfahan (MTCE) .

Telekom Malaysia’s shares closed MYR0.06 (1.82%) lower on the stock exchange at MYR3.24, while TM International’s shares were MYR0.05 (0.68%) higher at MYR7.35.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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