Telenor Said to Consider Options for Stake in Malaysia’s Digi

(Bloomberg) -- Telenor ASA is reviewing options for its stake in Malaysian mobile-phone operator Bhd, which is grappling with fierce domestic competition, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Norwegian phone carrier may explore a joint venture with Asian carriers or a sale of its stake if it doesn’t find the right partner, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The review is at an early stage, and no final decision has been made, the people said. Telenor’s 49 percent holding in Digi has a market value of about $4.6 billion.

Telenor’s operations in Malaysia have been subject to fierce competition even as the Norwegian carrier looks at expanding operations in Asia. Digi’s revenues as measured in the local currency declined 4 percent in the second quarter due to reduced phone sales, and customers’ average monthly bills fell about 6 percent because of heavy competition for subscribers, Telenor said in July.

A representative for Telenor declined to comment.

Proceeds from the company’s sale of its stake in Russia’s VimpelCom Ltd. may help with plans to expand in Asian markets, such as Vietnam and Indonesia. Oslo-based Telenor said Monday it had begun selling American depository shares in VimpelCom valued at about $556 million.

Digi is the third-largest mobile operator in Malaysia, with about 12.3 million subscribers, according to the company’s website. Telenor reduced its stake in Digi in 2008 to 49 percent from 61 percent.