Malaysia's Axiata sells 24 pct stake in Thai phone distributor

BANGKOK, July 2 Wed Jul 2, 2014 6:53am EDT

BANGKOK, July 2 (Reuters) - Axiata Group Bhd, Malaysia's biggest phone operator by market value, plans to sell its 23.93 percent stake in Thai handset distributor Samart I-Mobile to Samart Corp for 2.87 billion baht ($88.69 million).

The sale reflected Axiata Group's strategy to focus on the core mobile network business, the Thai firm said in a statement.

The Malaysian company will sell 1.05 billion shares of Samart I-Mobile at 2.73 baht each through the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the Thai firm said in a statement.

The price represented a 14 percent discount to Samart I-Mobile's closing prices at 3.16 baht on Wednesday, up nearly 4 percent on day.

The deal, which will be completed in the next 30 days, will raise holding of Thai telecoms group Samart Corp to 74.11 percent, it said.

($1 = 32.3600 Thai Baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong, editing by David Evans)