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Malaysian tycoon Krishnan to buy out Maxis

April 30, 2007 17:32 IST

Malaysian business tycoon Ananda Krishnan on Monday offered to acquire full control of mobile operator Maxis, which owns a majority stake in India's Aircel, to gain greater flexibility in running the company.

Krishnan, who already controls 46.5 per cent stake in Malaysia's largest mobile firm Maxis Communications, would launch a takeover offer for the remaining shares by May 3, said a regulatory filing on Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

The offer, being made through Krishnan-promoted Usaha Tegasis, is estimated to be worth over $5 billion based on Maxis' current market value of $9.4 billion.

Besides, market analysts believe there could be a premium of 20-30 per cent over the current share price, which could take the deal value to over $6.5 billion.

While neither the company nor its promoters gave any reasons for the offer, the experts said privatisation and full control would give Krishnan a free hand for deploying his own wealth for investments in overseas markets like India.

Earlier this month, Maxis announced plans to invest $3 billion in its Indian operations over the next five years.

In February, Aircel Ltd, in which Maxis owns about 74 per cent stake, had said it was targeting to double its subscriber base to 8 million in 2007.

The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) also said trading in the shares of Maxis was being suspended on Monday following a request to this effect from the company.

Maxis said in a separate filing with the exchange it was requesting for suspension of trading till May 3.

Meanwhile, Malaysian newspaper The Edge Daily quoted Maxis Group CEO Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim as saying that the "potential takeover is not expected to have any impact on the day-to-day running of the company's operations."

The daily also quoted brokerage firm Aseambankers Equity Research as saying that for Krishnan, there might be some merit in taking Maxis private at this point, should Maxis' impending investment costs in India and Indonesia significantly exceed managements guidance to-date.

With a net worth of about $6 billion, Krishan was named as Malaysia's second richest and Asia's 17th wealthiest person by Forbes magazine.

His business empire also includes Astro All Asia Networks Plc, which recently signed a joint venture with Maran family-promoted Sun TV Group to enter India's Direct-To-Home television market.

The takeover offer would be launched by Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd (UTSB) and its affiliates through a special purpose vehicle for all the ordinary shares of the company. The offer would be launched on or before May 3, the filing said.

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