China Mobile denies Millicom International Cellular bid

With Investcom pulling out and now China Mobile denying it is bidding, the race for the emerging markets operator could be between Orascom, MTC, Telenor and America Movil.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  May 3, 2006

The announcement yesterday that South African operator MTN was buying out Investcom has thrown open the race for fellow pan-continental operator Millicom International Cellular. Investcom had been tipped to take control of the emerging markets mobile group with a US$5 billion bid, but the following yesterday’s announcement, Investcom said it was no longer pursuing the deal. China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, was thought to be second place in the running with an offer of US$4 billion, and with Investcom’s departure was widely expected to come in with the successful bid. However, the Chinese operator has now confirmed that it is not bidding for Millicom. Earlier this year Millicom announced it was undertaking a review of strategic options for the company. It said it had appointed Morgan Stanley as financial advisors following receipt of what it described as “a high number” of unsolicited approaches. Several companies are believed to be still in the running for Millicom, including Egypt’s Orascom, MTC of Kuwait, Telenor of Norway and Mexico’s America Movil. At the beginning of 2006, Millicom had a market value of around US$2.8 billion. Its worldwide subscriber base stands at approximately nine million across 16 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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