Saturday July 28, 2012
Ananda back in spotlight
By FINTAN NG
PETALING JAYA: Reclusive billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan may be raising money for his other businesses abroad by the sale of 375 million shares or a 5% stake in telecommunications network operator Maxis Bhd for an estimated RM2.35bil.
Ananda, who holds a controlling stake in unlisted Maxis Communications Bhd, which in turn owns a 70% stake in Maxis Bhd, has been either selling off or planning to sell off stakes in various local operations of his business empire in recent months.
Maxis saw a total of 374 million shares or a 4.98% stake transacted by mid-afternoon yesterday valued at a total of RM2.34bil. Stock market data showed the shares were transacted at an average price of RM6.28, or somewhere in the middle of the price range of RM6.21 to RM6.34 reported by Reuters on Thursday.
Analysts told StarBizWeek that funding for Ananda's other businesses outside Malaysia could be the reason for the Maxis stake sale.
“It depends on how investors see the sale. Telecommunications is good but may not be as core to his strategy anymore,” a senior analyst with an investment bank said.
He said Ananda could be selling the stake to fund further expansion in his property business in Singapore and other jurisdictions as well as Chennai-based subsidiary Aircel Ltd's 3G rollout and network expansion.
The equity research head of a local bank-backed brokerage said the estimated price range of the sale, said to be sold in several tranches to mostly local funds, would be attractive given the stable earnings outlook of the company and the 6% dividend yield.
“Still one of the highest dividend yields among the telecommunication operators in the country,” he added.
A note by UOB KayHian, which retains a “buy” recommendation on the stock, calls for a target price of RM7.20 on discounted cashflow basis. The brokerage said Binariang's reduced stake “does not change the fundamentals of the company”.
Besides the Maxis stake sale, Ananda sold his power assets held under Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd (itself part of Tanjong plc, delisted in late 2010) to 1Malaysia Development Bhd for RM8.5bil in early March and was mulling the sale of a stake in privately held satellite operator Measat Global Bhd earlier in the year to foreign bidders.
Last August, Ananda sold number forecast operator Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd to a group of local tycoons for RM2.1bil. Pan Malaysian Pools was part of Tanjong plc.
Another analyst said Maxis' share price had had a good run and the stake was being sold at close to its peak, when the price hit a record high of RM6.92 on July 17.
Analysts also said that there would always be speculation over the motive for the stake sale, given that Ananda jealously guards his privacy and motives.
Maxis closed 14 sen lower at RM6.40.