Telefonica may cut debt by selling Colombian assets

As a means of reducing its debt, Telefonica is reportedly aiming to sell a minority stake in its Colombian unit, with the IPO possibly on course for this year.

The company owns 70% of the Colombian operator Movistar, with the country’s government holding the other 30% - although the minority shareholder would need to approve the IPO before any offers are accepted.

Movistar is the number two mobile player in Colombia, with 11.8 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter. The operation also comprises a fixed unit, internet and pay TV.

The IPO would likely raise over EUR500 million, which would contribute significantly towards the EUR4 billion of debt that Telefonica is aiming to eliminate. The Spanish group has numerous assets that it may divest across Central America, Ireland and the Czech Republic; it could also sell its minority stake in China Unicom.

It was widely believed that Telefonica was planning an IPO of its entire Latin American operation; however, this plan is thought to have been shelved indefinitely following a successful IPO of Telefonica Deutschland.

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