Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera is investing SEK3.2 billion (USD488 million) to acquire controlling interests in two Asian mobile operators, Spice Nepal Private Limited in Nepal and Applifone Co in Cambodia. TeliaSonera is buying a 51% stake in TeliaSonera Asia Holding from Kazakhstan’s Visor Group, giving it 80% of the shares and votes in the Nepalese operator and 100% of Cambodia’s Applifone. Visor Group will retain its ownership of the other 49% of TeliaSonera Asia Holding. The transaction is expected to be completed on 1 October. Commenting on the deal TeliaSonera chief executive Lars Nyberg said ‘One of our top priorities is to grow our business in [Asia] ... where we have successfully grown and created value over the past ten years,’ adding, ‘Nepal and Cambodia have a combined population of 43 million, low mobile penetration and growing economies.’
Spice Nepal is the second largest mobile operator in Nepal with around 1.6 million subscribers and an estimated market share of 41%. In 2007 the unit reported net sales of USD41.1 million and EBITDA of USD19 million. TeliaSonera said Spice posted revenues of USD34.1 million in the first half of 2008 and EBITDA of USD18.2 million. Meanwhile, Applifone is the fourth largest mobile operator in Cambodia, with 97,500 subscribers and a market share of around 3%.