Further rumours surface on Digitel sale

22 Sep 2009

Venezuelan businessman Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco is rumoured to have offered to buy GSM/3G mobile operator Digitel for USD720 million, BNamericas reports, quoting local newspaper El Universal. Sources close to Venezuela’s third largest cellco said, however, that negotiations are ongoing, whilst the proposed purchase would require regulatory approval from the country’s National Telecoms Commission (Conatel), and there has yet to be any official announcement on the rumoured acquisition. As previously reported in CommsUpdate, at the end of last month stories appeared in several local publications, including El Universal, that Digitel’s controlling shareholder, media and telecoms tycoon Oswaldo Cisneros, was selling the firm for up to USD800 million to Fernandez Barrueco, who controls companies in the banking, food and distribution sectors. Other local news sources and blogs denied the reports, though there was no official statement either way from the parties concerned. An alternative report quoted unnamed sources that Cisneros was considering selling out to Venezuelan banker Pedro Torres Ciliberto in partnership with the government. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database says that Telvenco, a company controlled by Cisneros, bought Digitel from Telecom Italia for USD425 million in January 2006, before merging it with two fellow regional GSM operators Infonet and Digicel to create a nationwide service provider under the Digitel name, in a deal which Conatel approved in May 2006.

Venezuela, Digitel