A PYMNTS Company

French Billionaire Xavier Niel Eyes $4 Billion Millicom Buyout

 |  May 23, 2024

Xavier Niel, the prominent French billionaire and telecom magnate, is considering a full buyout of Millicom International Cellular S.A., a major telecom operator in Latin America. Niel’s investment vehicle, Atlas Investissement, disclosed this potential move on Thursday, revealing that the company is evaluating financing options to support an offer price of $24 per common share.

Niel, the founder and owner of French telecom provider Iliad, is already the largest shareholder of Millicom, which operates under the TIGO brand across several Latin American countries. Atlas Investissement, a subsidiary of Niel’s NJJ Holding, currently holds a 29% stake in Millicom, according to data from LSEG.

The possibility of Niel’s buyout was initially reported by Bloomberg News, which also highlighted the recent rise in Millicom’s share price as a potential complication for closing the deal. Millicom’s U.S.-listed shares have surged approximately 33% this year, bringing the company’s market value to over $4 billion as of the latest closing price.

Millicom, headquartered in Luxembourg, was previously engaged in acquisition talks with Apollo Global Management and Claure Group last year. During these discussions, Niel increased his stake in Millicom, a move analysts saw as strategic, potentially complicating the Apollo deal. The negotiations with Apollo and Claure Group ended in June 2023.

Niel’s telecom investments span nine European countries, boasting nearly 50 million active subscribers and generating over 10 billion euros in revenue. Despite these extensive holdings, Atlas Investissement clarified that it operates independently of the Iliad Group and Iliad Holding.

As the founder of Iliad, Niel has a significant footprint in the telecom industry, both in Europe and now potentially expanding his influence further into Latin America through Millicom. If the buyout proceeds, it could reshape the competitive landscape of the region’s telecom sector, leveraging Niel’s extensive experience and resources.

Source: UK Finance Yahoo