Malaysia’s Axiata in talks with 11 to partner up for bid on digital bank license
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian telecoms firm Axiata Group is talking to eleven potential partners, including banks, to jointly bid for a digital banking license, its deputy chief executive, Mohd Izzaddin Idris, said on Friday.
Malaysia’s central bank plans to issue up to five licenses to new online banks offering either conventional or Islamic banking under a proposed framework set to be finalised by the end of June.
Last month, Reuters reported that Axiata was among companies including ride-hailing firm Grab, gaming firm Razer, AirAsia and lender CIMB, looking to apply for digital banking licenses in Malaysia.
Axiata has provided comments to and been engaging the central bank since its draft proposal came out in December, Mohd Izzaddin told an earnings briefing.
Axiata has been “pursued by several parties” for partnership on the licensing bid, he said, adding that the draft did not specifically require the firm to partner with a bank, though it made sense to do so, he added.
The firm’s digital ventures arm, Axiata Digital Services, houses its digital ventures and owns the e-wallet Boost.
Axiata also said it was not holding any talks with Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor ASA over a possible deal.
Last month, Bloomberg said Telenor and Axiata’s top shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, were in talks, just four months after the carriers scrapped a planned merger of their Asia operations.
The company also said on Friday it plans an initial public offering of its unit Robi in Bangladesh by the last quarter of this year and expects to raise 255 million ringgit ($60.8 million).
On the potential listing of its telecoms tower business, edotco, Axiata said it was still looking to acquire more tower assets and was in no rush.
“We are evaluating the state of readiness of edotco because we want to make sure it has the right size,” Mohd Izzaddin said. “We want to build a certain critical mass before pursuing a listing.”