Cambodian and Israeli telcos figure in sale of stakes by majority owners

Cambodian and Israeli telcos figure in sale of stakes by majority owners

CamGSM now fully locally-owned while new entity buys into Partner Communications

Following two agreements reached this week, the long expected sale of stakes by the majority owners of Israel’s Partner Communications and Cambodia’s CamGSM are expected to be completed by end-2009. see Millicom to dispose of Asian telecom assets : Hutchinson to sell Israeli stake

Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd (HTIL) announced the sale of its 51 percent stake in Partner Communications to Israeli-based mobile phone distributor, Scailex Corp for about US$1.4 billion. Partner Communications, HTIL’s Israeli telco subsidiary, operates under the Orange brand. The deal involves cash of US$1.08 billion and the remainder in secured debt instruments.

HTIL expects to gain US$1 billion

Quoting HTIL’s chief financial officer Christopher Foll, the Bloomberg report said that Scailex submitted the highest bid among the four to five firms that were interested in acquiring the stake.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd owns 60 percent of HTIL while billionaire Li Ka-Shing has an additional 5.5 percent in a personal capacity, according to Bloomberg. Pending approval by shareholders and Israeli regulatory authority, the transaction will yield an estimated US$1 billion before tax for HTIL.

Besides Hong Kong and Macau, HTIL also has operations in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. It indicated it has earmarked HK$7 billion (US903 million) this year for capital expenditure for the group, up from HK$5.1 billion (US$657.9 million) in 2008. In its annual report ending March, the telco indicated it will continue to invest in Indonesia and Vietnam. It is targeting to expand its mobile networks to 9,000 base stations in Indonesia and 5,000 base stations in Vietnam to capitalise on the market opportunities in these two markets.

Millicom sells stake to Cambodian partner

In a separate development, Millicom International Cellular SA (MIC) announced it has sold its interests in Cambodia for US$346 million to its local partner, the Royal Group.

The transaction comprises MIC’s 58.4 percent stakes in CamGSM, which provides cellular services under Mobitel brand, Royal Telecom International and Cambodia Broadcasting Services, reported the Phnom Penh Post.

Quoting from a company statement, the newspaper attributed MIC’s chief executive officer, Mikael Grahne as saying it ‘was delighted to reach agreement on the sale of our Cambodian operations to our local partner, the Royal Group.

Indian telco reportedly eyeing MIC’s Sri Lanka interest

MIC had said earlier it was also considering disposing of its other Asian telecom assets in Sri Lanka and Laos. One recent media report indicated that India’s Bharti Airtel is planning to make a pitch for MIC’s Sri Lanka Tigo mobile operator. If it translates into an actual bid and is successful, it will strengthen the Indian telco’s position in Sri Lanka where it has invested US$250 million to set up Bharti Airtel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd with a further US$120 million in the pipeline.

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