The announcement comes on the heels of a Reuters report that said Japan's biggest mobile operator, NTT DoCoMo, which is also a substantial shareholder of U Mobile, planned to sell its entire 16.5 per cent stake in the Malaysian operator to U Mobile's parent, U Television, for US$100 million (RM350 million).
The report also said the move arose in the aftermath of South Korean partner KT Freetel's sale of its 16.5 per cent stake in U Mobile earlier this year, which analysts said was due to lowered expectations of growth for the Malaysian company.
"The put option, if it materialises, will enable MPHB to venture into the business of multimedia interactive television and telecommunications services. The proposed investment in U Mobile is expected to contribute positively to the future earnings of MPHB," MPHB said in its filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.
Over the next 13 months, AmBank has the rights to get MPHB to acquire the U Mobile shares.
However, MPHB did not explain why it chose to enter into a put option agreement instead of acquiring the 41.63 per cent stake directly.
The announcement to Bursa Malaysia also did not disclose which party
"It is one of the announcements that leave more questions than answers: how MPHB is able to buy a 41.63 per cent stake in U Mobile for just RM280 million; when NTT DoCoMo and KT Freetel each bought a 16.5 per cent stake for US$100 million," an analyst commented when contacted.