Millicom is acquiring Telefonica’s units in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for $1.7 billion.
The group is shifting its focus towards Latin America while seeking additional revenue streams. In a statement, it described the buy as “a perfect complement” to its cable operations already present in all three markets, noting that it would bolster its recent purchase of Panama’s Cable Onda.
Telefonica’s units in Nicaragua and Panama lead their respective markets, while its Costa Rican unit is the country’s second-largest. On the back of the acquisition, Millicom has forecast yearly run-rate opex and capex synergies of $35 million to $50 million, which it anticipates will be “largely realised by 2021 and fully realised by 2023.”
In a statement, Telefonica said: : “This transaction is part of the Telefonica Group’s asset portfolio management policy based on a strategy of value creation, improving return on capital and strategic positioning. It also complements the objective of organic debt reduction and strengthening the balance sheet in a growing cash flow scenario, which allows us to maintain a sustainable and attractive shareholder remuneration.”
Last year, it was reported that Telefonica was considering a full divestment of its Central American units. In January this year, it began to act on this, selling its Movistar units in El Salvador and Guatemala to America Movil for $648 million.
Millicom’s acquisition will require approval from each market’s regulator, although it anticipates closing the deal in H2 2019.