Malaysia’s Axiata Group, a Major Telecommunications Company, Might Acquire Digital Banking License

Malaysia-based Axiata Group, a major telecommunications company, has reportedly been holding discussions with around 11 different potential business partners in order to acquire a digital banking license in the Asian nation.

Mohd Izzaddin Idris, Axiata’s deputy chief executive, confirmed that the firm was also talking to local banking institutions.

In December 2019, Malaysia’s reserve bank revealed that it would be issuing five operational licenses to digital banks that aim to offer regular or Islamic (Shariah-compliant) banking services. The framework of the banking licenses is scheduled to be finalized by the end of June 2020.

Other major companies, such as Grab, gaming firm Razer and CIMB, are also considering acquiring a digital banking license.

Idris revealed that Axiata has been in talks with Malaysia’s reserve bank since the proposals were first introduced in December of last year. The digital banking license has been “pursued by several parties,” who have partnered in order to submit their applications, Idris said. He added that although the draft from the Malaysian central bank doesn’t state that companies need to be in a partnership, it could help Axiata if it works cooperatively with other firms.

Axiata has a digital ventures unit, known as Axiata Digital Services, which takes care of all of its digital projects, such as the firm’s electronic wallet.

Axiata’s primary shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, has reportedly been holding discussions with Telenor, which comes only months after the carriers said they would not move forward with a planned merger of Asia-based business operations.

Robi, which is a separate part of Axiata, says it will conduct an initial public offering (IPO) in Bangladesh toward the end of 2020. The IPO could raise an estimated 255 million ringgit (appr. $60.8 million).

Axiata’s management noted that it aims to secure additional assets for its telecommunication tower company, edotco. It added that it was not in a hurry when it comes to listing listing the company publicly.

Idris remarked:

“We are evaluating the state of readiness of edotco because we want to make sure it has the right size. We want to build a certain critical mass before pursuing a listing.”

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