KUALA LUMPUR: It was necessary for Umno to get rid of its shares in Media Prima, because New Straits Times is no longer friendly with Barisan Nasional, says former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“Anyways, Media Prima is not under the control of Umno. So if we have minority shares, it is no longer meaningful because NST is not really friendly to us anymore,” he said.
Najib was speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby on Thursday (July 4).
Media Prima owns NST, Berita Harian, Harian Metro, free-to-air television channels TV3, NTV7, 8TV and TV9, as well as radio stations Fly FM, Hot FM, One FM and Kool FM.
Sources told StarBiz that tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary had bought an 11.09% equity interest in Media Prima from Gabungan Kesturi Sdn Bhd in an off-market deal on July 2.
Gabungan Kesturi is wholly owned by trustee company Amanah Raya Bhd, which is in turn wholly owned by the government.
With the acquisition, Syed Mokhtar added another media company to his stable, the others being TMR Media Sdn Bhd, the publisher of The Malaysian Reserve and Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd
Speculation was rife earlier that Syed Mokhtar was mulling a mega-merger of the media players in Malaysia, putting together several key national newspapers, including the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Utusan Melayu under one umbrella.
However, the proposal was aborted less than two months after negotiations commenced, following stiff opposition within Umno, with many fearing a monopoly would emerge.