MIC takes full ownership of three African cellcos

3 Feb 2006

Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has taken full control of three African wireless network operators, after buying out their minority shareholders. MIC announced on Wednesday it had completed the buyouts of partners in Millicom Sierra Leone and MIC Tanzania and cancelled a call option involving Millicom Ghana. Commenting on the transactions, Millicom President and CEO Marc Beuls said: ‘These three transactions are consistent with our stated strategy of delivering value to shareholders through increasing our shareholding in our existing operations by buying out minority partners. Africa has once again seen particularly strong growth, and given the relatively low mobile penetration rates in these markets compared to other regions of the world, we have every reason to expect that this will continue in the future.’

Last month MIC put itself up for sale after receiving unsolicited approaches from several competitors, rumoured to include China Mobile. Based in Luxembourg, the group boasts a large portfolio of assets which includes 17 cellular operations and licences in 16 countries in South East Asia, South Asia, Central America, South America and Africa, covering a population of approximately 392 million. At the end of September 2005 the group claimed 6.4 million proportionate customers, of which just over six million were pre-paid. MIC has appointed Morgan Stanley as financial advisor for the sale. Swedish media and telecoms conglomerate Kinnevik currently owns a 40% stake in MIC.