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Tycoon Krishnan may take Astro Malaysia private

Kuala Lumpur

BILLIONAIRE T Ananda Krishnan is weighing the possibility of taking Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd private after shares of the pay-TV operator dropped to a record low, people familiar with the matter said.

The tycoon has revived deliberations about a buyout of Kuala Lumpur-based Astro, which had a market value of US$1.9 billion at Monday's close, according to the people. Mr Krishnan has been speaking to potential advisers about funding options and is reaching out to some major investors to gauge their interest, they added.

Astro shares jumped as much as 16 per cent in Kuala Lumpur trading on Tuesday. The company's stock had fallen 46 per cent this year through Monday, making it the worst performer on the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index, which was down 2.3 per cent.

"It's an opportunistic move from Krishnan," Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners, a special situations investment and advisory firm, said. "He would need to offer at least a 25 per cent premium for people to consider his buyout offer."

Mr Krishnan is Malaysia's fourth-richest person with a net worth of about US$4.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He controls a 40.9 per cent stake in Astro as of April 10, the company's latest annual report shows. Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd owns 20.7 per cent, while state-owned pension fund Employees Provident Fund holds 7.8 per cent. BLOOMBERG

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