Sentiment on telco stocks expected to improve


KUALA LUMPUR: Once the dust settles on issues regarding the single wholesale network, a reversal in share prices of telecommunication operators is on the cards, says Kenanga Research.

The research unit noted that the parties concerned, including Maxis Bhd and U Mobile Sdn Bhd, have generally agreed to the terms of the lease pricing and are likely to sign the access agreements as early as this month.

“We understand that the new terms are more favourable to the telcos,” said Kenanga Research, which pointed out that the telcos are domestically-driven players, other than Axiata Group Bhd, and hence will escape external headwinds.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission released a public inquiry paper last week seeking to review access pricing, which it last conducted in 2017.

This paper seeks to regulate a new set of pricing for services provided by the telco industry, comprising fixed services, 4G mobile services, 5G mobile services, infrastructure sharing, digital terrestrial broadcasting and multiplexing services for 2023 to 2025.

Kenanga Research said this proposal will have a positive impact on the mobile network operators (MNOs) as 5G access pricing will be substantially reduced, thus boosting their bottom line.

The paper also seeks to cut prices on other services, significantly impacting Telecom Malaysia Bhd’s (TM) wholesale pricing.




“We reckon that this impact will likely be minimal, offset by increasing wholesale demand from the 5G rollout and the expanded network coverage under Jendela 2.

“This is on top of additional value-added services that the MNOs seek in order to enhance the customer experience. We also note a positive impact on OCK as the paper proposed to increase prices on telco tower sharing,” said Kenanga Research.

Four MNOs, Celcom Axiata Bhd, Digi, YTL Communications Sdn Bhd and TM, have executed share subscription agreements to collectively take up a 65% stake in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), which will be Malaysia’s single wholesale 5G network operator.

The respective shareholdings for the four MNOs are: Celcom (12.5%), Digi (12.5%), YTL (20%) and TM (20%).

Meanwhile, KAF Equities Research maintained its “neutral” call on the sector, despite progress on the stake sale and access agreement between DNB and the MNOs.

“Given the size of each of the four MNOs, we believe that there would be no issue funding the acquisition.

“The amount is smaller than the annual capital expenditure of these MNOs, which is generally more than RM1bil,” said KAF Equities Research.

Meanwhile, based on DNB’s financial year 2021 loss of RM164.6mil, KAF Equities Research estimated that the impact of accounting for associate stakes in DNB could drag annual earnings by a low-to mid-single-digit percentage.