Telecom carrier Millicom has acquired Telefónica’s wireless operations in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a total US$1.65 billion.
The acquisition adds 8.7 million mobile telephone customers to Luxembourg-based Millicom’s portfolio, and which is predominantly a cable network operator in the region.
“We are acquiring the number one mobile operator in Panama and in Nicaragua and the number two mobile operator in Costa Rica. As a result, we now have both fixed and mobile in every market we operate in Latin America,”Millicom’s CEO Mauricio Ramos said.
The news comes seven months after Millicom bolstered its operations in Panama with the acquisition of 80% stake in Cable Onda.
Millicom says the newly acquired assets complement its operations in Central America, and that it will now be able to cross-sell mobile services to its existing cable customers and cable services to Telefónica’s mobile customers.
“The transaction gives us full in-market scale, and the benefits of significant synergies,” Ramos said.
All of the three Central American countries have among the highest disposable income levels in the region, but penetration rates for digital services are relatively low.
Millicom operates in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay under the Tigo brand, serving more than 50 million mobile telephone customers and 3.3 million households.
It is one of the largest carriers in Colombia.
This is the latest divestment by Telefónica in the region, after announcing in January that it had closed a deal to sell its Guatemalan and El Salvadoran operations to Mexican company América Móvil.