Malaysia’s Axiata Group has announced the completion of its acquisition of an 80% stake in Nepalese mobile operator Ncell from TeliaSonera of Sweden. The USD1.365 billion deal was first announced in December and comes as part of TeliaSonera’s previously announced plan to exit its seven Eurasian mobile operations in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova and Nepal. Meanwhile, the remaining 20% interest in Ncell has been acquired by Axiata’s local partner, Sunivera Capital Ventures, which has replaced Niraj Govinda Shrestha as the minority shareholder; under Nepalese law, the country’s telcos must retain at least 20% domestic ownership.
The new Malaysian owner says it will soon be introducing its ‘Axiata Roam’ group-wide roaming service, offering discounted roaming prices to Ncell customers traveling within the Axiata footprint countries and roaming with its operating companies and partners. It also says it will launch new offers to target the approximately one million Nepalese foreign workers in Malaysia.
President & Group Chief Executive Officer of Axiata, Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, said: ‘The unique mix of a controlling stake of a well-managed number one player in a healthy, growing market presents Axiata the perfect expansion opportunity of its footprint. The addition of Ncell into the Axiata network of mobile operators marks yet another significant milestone for the Group, in terms of solidifying our strong hold in the South Asian region.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Ncell is the largest mobile operator in Nepal, with around 13 million subscribers and a market share of over 50% at the end of 2015.