Report: Ananda Krishnan’s right-hand man frontrunner to lead Putrajaya’s 5G SPV
A woman uses a smartphone as she walks pass a 5G logo during the launch of the 5G Showcase in Putrajaya April 18, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Augustus Ralph Marshall, the once trusted aide to Malaysia’s second richest man Tan Sri T. Ananda Krishnan, is rumoured to be the frontrunner to spearhead the government’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) tasked with the rollout of 5G in Malaysia.

The Vibes reported today that the Maxis Bhd and Astro Holdings Bhd top leader’s name came up as a candidate to lead the SPV as Putrajaya works to finalise the details.

The Vibes, quoting anonymous sources, said the exact details of the contract and Augustus’ position remains unknown as the situation is still fluid.

The report added that its efforts to reach the Ministry of Finance (MoF) went unanswered and that Augustus was not available for a comment. Malay Mail is also independently seeking verification.

On February 22, Putrajaya announced that the distribution of 5G spectrum would not be done through auction but bought via an SPV wholly owned by the MoF.

Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) chairman Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said the SPV will be the sole proprietor of the next-generation technology licensed to provide the spectrum bands wholesale.

5G is a fifth generation mobile network that provides super fast connectivity needed to enable technologies like artificial intelligence and the internet of things, by allowing connection with machines or devices.

The MCMC previously said it would distribute the 5G spectrum through bidding.

The move has since been panned by analysts Fitch Solutions, which said the government’s decision could drive wholesale cost higher, hurt operator margins, and hurt the development of 5G services locally.

Augustus and his former chief Ananda made headlines in 2014 when police in India filed corruption charges against Dayanidhi Maran, India’s telecommunication minister between 2004 and 2007 and billionaire businessman Kalanithi Maran over Maxis’ acquisition of a controlling stake in Aircel Ltd in 2006.

Both Augustus and Ananda were named in the charge sheet, with India requesting extradition, with Malaysian police saying that they received no such request at the time.

Maxis denied any wrongdoing, and said it would pursue all available legal remedies to defend itself and Augustus.