Millicom to offload remaining African units; Econet linked with deal

20 Oct 2017

Millicom International Cellular (MIC) is reportedly in advanced discussions with Zimbabwean telecoms firm Econet Wireless Group to sell the remainder of its African telecoms portfolio, comprising units in Tanzania, Rwanda and Chad. According to TMT Finance, Econet is working with Citibank, while MIC has enlisted Lazard to assist with the sale. The total deal could raise as much as USD1 billion, although the Tanzanian units – Tigo and Zantel – are said to be the most lucrative assets. A strategic withdrawal from Africa will allow MIC to renew its focus on Latin America, where it has enjoyed greater success in recent years.

TeleGeography notes that MIC has already taken active steps to exit its African markets. Back in April 2016 the group concluded its USD160 million sale of Tigo DRC to Orange Group. In February this year, meanwhile, MIC agreed to sell Tigo Senegal to local financial services company Wari Group for a fee of USD129 million, only to abandon the deal in favour of a sale to a consortium comprising NJJ, Sofima and Teyliom Group five months later. Most recently, a 50/50 merger between Tigo Ghana and Airtel Ghana closed earlier this month.

For its part, Econet previously scooped up operations in Burundi and Central African Republic (CAR) back in October 2014, as VimpelCom (now VEON) plotted its own exit from the continent. Econet Wireless Group is currently active in Zimbabwe (Econet Wireless Zimbabwe), Lesotho (Econet Wireless Lesotho) and Burundi (Econet Leo), and retains a minority stake in Botswana-based Mascom Wireless. Its CAR division, Telecel-RCA, was sold in March 2017.

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