Millicom plays down rumours of imminent sale

The Luxembourg-based mobile operator with units across Africa, Asia and Latin America, has said it has received offers, but denies that a sale is definite.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  March 29, 2006

Millicom International Cellular, the Luxembourg-based mobile operator with units across Africa, Asia and Latin America, has said it has “solicited and received several nonbinding offers for the acquisition of the entire share capital of the company”. The statement follows on from the announcement Millicom made in January after having received a large number of “unsolicited approaches”. In February, the operator said that it had brought in Morgan Stanley as advisors However, the operator has made it clear that that there is no certainty that the offers will lead to an eventual deal. It also said that there were “various inaccuracies” in the media regarding the potential sale, some which suggested that there were six interested parties, and that a sale was likely in mid-April, with the price ranging between US$3 billion and US$3.5 billion, depending on whether Millicom would be split into parts or sold as a whole. Speaking to CommsMEA earlier in the year, Martin Pieters, CEO of fellow pan-African mobile operator Celtel, admitted that it might be difficult to swallow Millicom whole. “To be honest I do not see a real fit for the whole portfolio with another operator,” he said, adding that it were to be sold in separate pieces, it could be of interest to Celtel. “We are looking at that, but just to give an example, we are not interested in Latin America.” One possibility for this to work for Celtel is if a large investor were to buy out the whole of Millicom, and sell individual assets to interested parties. “We’ll see further down the road in this process,” Pieters said. Millicom has five African operations in Ghana, Mauritius, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, covering a population of over 75 million. In September 2005 it acquired a GSM mobile operation in The Democratic Republic of Congo. There are several operators looking to expand their footprints across Africa, including Celtel and South Africa’s MTN, who might be interested in these units. Internationally, Millicom has 17 mobile units covering a population under licence of around 392 million. In 2005 it reported revenues of US$1.08 billion.

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