Syed Yusof buys into Vasseti, which is launching its broadband service today
KUALA LUMPUR: Businessman Tan Sri Syed Yusof Syed Nasir has bought a 30% stake in Vasseti Bhd, which is expected to launch its 1Gbps (gigabit per second) fixed line broadband service offering for residential users in select areas today.
“Telecommunications is a growing business. It has a lot of potential and I believe it is not too late for me to be part of a growing segment of the market,” Yusof told StarBizWeek in an interview yesterday.
Yusof has various business concerns and is well known for his interests in Hard Rock Cafe and Hotels and the Concorde Hotel chain. He is a partner alongside the Sultan of Selangor and Ipoh-born tycoon Ong Beng Seng in the RM2.5bil Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur which is being developed next to the Petronas Twin Towers.
With a paid-up capital of RM15mil, Vasseti has business interests in telecommunications and information technology, plantations, construction, tourism, real estate and human resource outsourcing services. Its other shareholders are Ranjeet Singh Sidhu and Datuk M. Harisharan Pal Singh.
“I came on board early this year,” said Yusof, who is Vasseti chairman.
Vasseti’s journey into telecoms began early this year when it undertook a corporate exercise to buy 80% equity stake in V Telecoms Bhd, which has a paid-up capital of RM502mil. V Telecoms holds network facilities provider and NSP network services provider licences.
Yusof said V Telecoms had thus far invested RM500mil to build a fibre optic network that spanned the length of Peninsular Malaysia. As it does not have enough fibre in the ground, the company also buys capacity from other telecoms providers to cater to the needs of its clients which are mostly multinational corporations and some telcos. “It is a 50:50 combination between our own fibre and what we lease from others now. We need to expand our network and our target is to invest RM1bil by the year-end for this purpose,” Yusof said.
V Telecoms’ investment far had been sourced via private equity and internal funding. The company has also just completed a fund-raising exercise for an additional RM100mil by issuing redeemable convertible cumulative preference shares.
“We will need to raise more funding in the market for our expansion and we intend to source funding via private equity funds and high net worth individuals,” said Yusof.
According to V Telecoms executive director Anthony Suppiah, wholesale makes up 70% of the company’s business and retail the remaining 30%. With the 1Gbps community broadband product, the company expects to reach out to more residential users to grow its retail business.
“With 1Gbps, the network is capable of delivering very high speed broadband and can even cater for video streaming and IPTV (Internet protocol TV) besides voice connectivity. The residential offering will be available in Capital Square in Kuala Lumpur, The Loft in Bangsar and KL Sentral. We are charging RM199 per month for the 1Gpbs,” he said.
Asked how the company could stand alongside bigger players with deep pockets and a much wider reach, Anthony said “we are not in competition with other fibre optic players, we see ourselves as complementing them. Our challenge is how we can brand ourselves to be a provider and expand at the speed the market demands. That, to us, is more crucial.”