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Millicom heading to China

China Mobile is thought to be finalising a US$5.6 billion deal for emerging markets operator Millicom International Cellular which will see it enter markets across Africa, Latin America and Asia.

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, is believed to be finalising a US$5.6 billion deal to acquire pan-continental emerging markets operator Millicom International Cellular. Should it be completed, the deal will be the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Chinese telecoms company.

Millicom announced in January 2006 that it had received several unsolicited takeover bids and brought in Morgan Stanley as advisors. Lebanon-headquartered operator Investcom had been lined up to make the purchase in a US$5 billion deal. However, this offer was withdrawn following the announcement last month that Investcom was to be bought by South Africa’s MTN.

China Mobile was thought to have offered the second highest amount for Millicom with a US$4 billion bid, but made a statement at the time claiming that this was not the case. The operator is reported to have since gone back on this statement with the US$5.6 billion deal that is now on the table.

Kuwaiti operator MTC was also believed to be interested, but is thought to have only been interested in taking part of the company’s assets rather the whole. Norway’s Telenor was also understood to have been involved.

Millicom’s worldwide subscriber base stands at approximately 9 million across 16 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. At the beginning of 2006, Millicom had a market value of around US$2.8 billion.

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