TeliaSonera has increased its shares in TeliaSonera Asia Holding, purchasing US$160 million of assets and raising its stake to 75.45%.
The acquisition affords TeliaSonera greater influence in Nepal and Cambodia, as TeliaSonera Asia Holding has controlling stakes in operators in these countries: it has full ownership of Cambodia’s sixth largest operator Applifone (Star Cell) and an 81% stake in Ncell, Nepal’s second largest operator.
Following the transaction, TeliaSonera will own (albeit indirectly) 60.4% of Ncell – an increase of almost 20% - with the opportunity to increase this to 72.9% if it fulfils certain criteria. Reportedly, the remaining shares of TeliaSonera Asia Holding are owned by Visor Group, a Kazakhstani investment firm.
Meanwhile, the firm’s Cambodian operations are to be merged with Latelz, a smaller market player that operates under the brand Smart Mobile. The resulting operations will have a combined 850,000 subscribers, giving them the third largest share in the Cambodian market. However, the two market leaders have a significant lead, with each boasting over two million customers.
Tero Kivisarri, President of Eurasia for TeliaSonera, commented: “the Cambodian mobile market has been characterised by fierce competition and high churn rates and a consolidation was inevitable.”
Cambodia’s total subscriber base is less than 8 million, but with 9 operators the market is somewhat crowded. Despite the fact that Star Cell is the larger firm, the combined business will operate as Smart Mobile.