Cash-strapped Spanish telecom giant Telefonica has sold its Atento call center business to the US private equity firm Bain Capital for $1.3 billion. Atento is easily one of the most recognized names is Spanish-language call center operations in the Americas region. (One of our reports a few years ago focused on Atento’s operations in Venenzuela.)
Despite the sale, Atento will continue to provide services to Telefonica for nine more years to come. Bain, co-founded by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, already owns Japan’s biggest call centre operator, Bellsystems24.
“Bain, which has recently invested in Genpact, the world’s largest business processing outsourcer, is interested in Atento’s strong presence in Latin America, and will look to expand its client base,” said the Irish paper. Atento employs tens of thousands of employees in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Guatemala.
More than 50 per cent of Atento’s business is with Telefonica, and another 9 per cent comes from Spain’s second largest bank BBVA.
”This transaction is part of the policy of proactive management of the portfolio of assets of the company and the initiatives to increase Telefónica’s financial flexibility,” the company said in a statement.
The operator is likely to use the money for repaying debt, which, according to analysts, totals at $ 75 billion.
With more than 152,000 employees in 15 countries, Atento’s CRM business is the biggest in Latin America and the second largest in the world.
According to the Financial Times, Telefónica had been seeking to dispose of the call-centre group since 2007. The Spanish operator even tried unsuccessfully to float Atento, before initiating a second sales process this summer.
Telefónica’s business has been hit hard by the turmoil in the Spanish economy and it is selling assets to stave off any further downgrades of its credit rating.