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M1's three largest shareholders reviewing stakes

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The three largest shareholders of M1 are undertaking a "strategic review" of their stakes in the local telco.

Combined, they own more than 60 per cent of M1.

The disclosure came after M1 and its two Singapore-listed shareholders - Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation (Keppel T&T) and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) - called for a trading halt on their shares yesterday afternoon.

SPH said after the market close that it has, together with Axiata Group and Keppel T&T, jointly appointed Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) as financial adviser to assist with the strategic review, which "may or may not lead to a transaction".

It said this was in reference to a Bloomberg report which said that the shareholders are evaluating selling their combined stakes in M1, citing unnamed sources.

Malaysian telco Axiata is M1's biggest shareholder with a 28.54 per cent stake, according to Bloomberg data. Keppel T&T, meanwhile, owns 19.23 per cent, while SPH holds 13.38 per cent.

"There is no assurance that any transaction will materialise from such strategic review or that any definitive or binding agreement will be reached," SPH said in a statement.

It added that it will make further announcements if and when there are any material developments that warrant disclosure. M1, Keppel T&T and Axiata made similar announcements yesterday.

Prior to the trading halt, both M1 and Keppel T&T had received trading queries from the Singapore Exchange - after M1 shares soared 7.9 per cent to $2.19, and Keppel T&T shares jumped 4.9 per cent to $1.705.

Shares of SPH last traded at $3.53, 0.3 per cent lower than the previous day's close. Kuala Lumpur-listed Axiata finished 3.3 per cent up at RM4.97.

Speculation over the potential sale or privatisation of M1 has been rife in the market since as early as last year, as Singapore readies itself for a fourth entrant in the telco market.