SINGAPORE: Singapore telco M1's three biggest shareholders, who own about 60 per cent in the company, are evaluating selling their stakes, in the first recent sign of M&A activity in the local sector which is set to see increased competition.
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Keppel Telecommunications and Transportation and Axiata Group are undertaking a strategic review of their respective shareholdings in M1, the firms said in separate statements. The three companies did not give a reason for the move.
M1, which has a total market value of about S$2.05 billion (US$1.5 billion), referred media queries to the shareholders.
In a statement, SPH said that "the company, Keppel Telecommunications and Transportation Ltd and Axiata Group Berhad are currently undertaking a strategic review in respect of their respective shareholdings in M1 Limited which may or may not lead to a transaction".
It added that the shareholders had jointly appointed Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) as a financial adviser to assist with the strategic review. However, there is no assurance any transaction would materialise from such a review or that any definitive or binding agreement would be reached.
"If and when there are any material developments which warrant disclosure, the Company will, in compliance with applicable rules, make further announcements as appropriate," it said.
The investors' stakes in Singapore's smallest telecom firm are worth more than S$1.2 billion. Singapore currently has three telecom operators - Singtel, StarHub and M1. Last year, Australia's TPG Telecom won the bid to enter Singapore's telco market.
Malaysian telecom firm Axiata Group is the biggest shareholder in M1 with a stake of just over 28 per cent. Keppel Telecommunications holds around 19 per cent and SPH has a stake of about 13 per cent, according to stock exchange data.
M1 shares rose 8 per cent before trading was halted ahead of the announcements. Its shares lost nearly half their value from a 2015 peak before Friday's jump. ($1 = 1.4003 Singapore dollars)