Malaysian royal buying stake in MOL for $120 million

KUALA LUMPUR Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:23am EST

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KUALA LUMPUR Feb 19 (Reuters) - MOL Global Pte Ltd, a Malaysian online payment firm controlled by billionaire Vincent Tan, said on Wednesday the sultan of the southern state of Johor will buy a 15 percent stake in its operating unit, MOL AccessPortal Sdn Bhd, for $120 million.

The purchase, which values the online payment unit at about $800 million, comes at a time when MOL is aiming for a $300 million Nasdaq listing by the first half of this year.

"MOL has grown to be a global Internet company that can trace its roots back to the state of Johor where it was originally conceptualised 14 years ago," MOL's co-founder and chief executive, Ganesh Kumar Bangah, said in a statement.

MOL, which snapped up Friendster Inc - one of the earliest social networking sites - has a market presence in Southeast Asia, India and Australia. It has recently turned its focus to the U.S. and Brazilian markets by taking up a majority stake last year in Silicon Valley-based e-payment company Rixty Inc for an undisclosed sum.

Also known as Money Online, MOL said it will retain an 85 percent stake in MOL AccessPortal, which handles more than 60 million transactions annually with an payment value of more than $500 million.

MOL might be the biggest listing this year for Tan, who was Malaysia's ninth-richest man with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Tan made his fortune running businesses from lotteries to hotels and fastfood franchises. He is also the owner of U.K. football club Cardiff City.

(Reporting By Yantoultra Ngui; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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