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MyRepublic to become an MVNO telco, not interested in buying M1; to IPO in 2018-19

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Setting to rest months of speculation, fibre broadband services player MyRepublic said on Thursday that it is not interested in buying telco M1.

SETTING to rest months of speculation, fibre broadband services player MyRepublic said on Thursday that it is not interested in buying telco M1. Instead, in order to fulfil its mobile telco aspirations, the company will become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Singapore, buying mobile bandwidth wholesale from one of the telcos. The company's mobile services are likely to start later this year, probably in October.

MyRepublic is also planning an initial public offering (IPO) towards the end of next year or early 2019. The size of the float or the listing stock exchange has not yet been finalised. MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues said that the IPO proceeds will, among other things, help finance the growth of the company to eight other markets in the South-east Asian region, especially in countries that are currently rolling out fibre broadband networks or are looking to do so. The company already operates - apart from Singapore - in Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

While preparing for the IPO, MyRepublic is currently in talks with private equity investors to raise S$100 million. This will be in addition to the S$120 million that the company has raised since its inception in 2011. Mr Rodrigues said that two-thirds of the money raised would be used to fund the company's broadband expansion in Indonesia, where it already has more than 100,000 customers, and is looking to hike that number to 1.3-1.4 million.

In Singapore, the company currently has 70,000 broadband customers. Australia accounts for 28,000 and New Zealand for 15,000.

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Talking about the company's MVNO plans, Mr Rodrigues said that a deal has already been struck with one of the three telcos in Singapore and that the partnership would be announced within "one month to 45 days". He added that MyRepublic was looking to leverage its fibre broadband customer base to get new mobile phone customers and it was looking at no more than 5-6 per cent share of the market. MyRepublic added that, as a MVNO player, it could potentially break even with as low as 1.5 per cent marketshare. At the moment, with its broadband services, the company is cash flow positive in Singapore.

Once the service stabilises in Singapore, the company is looking to introduce similar services in its existing markets.

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