TeliaSonera sells 60 pc Ncell shares to Axiata

KATHMANDU: TeliaSonera, owner of the Nepali mobile phone service provider Ncell, sold 60.4 per cent share of the Ncell to the Axiata, an Asian telecommunication company.

In its statement, the European telecommunication provider on Monday said it sold the shares worth USD 1,030 million to the Malaysia-based Asian telecommunication giant.

"Ncell had a net cash position of approximately USD 284 million, after purchase price adjustments, as of September 30, 2015, and TeliaSonera will be paid for the cash position at closing in proportion to its economic interest of 80.4 percent."

"Over and above 60.4 percent, TeliaSonera consolidates a further 20 percent in Ncell, an ownership which is today held locally by Niraj Shrestha," the statement added, "All arrangements between TeliaSonera and Niraj Shrestha, which were entered into in 2012, will lapse in conjunction with closing."

Likewise, Niraj will sell his shares to Bhavana Singh Shrestha, who is Axiata’s chosen local partner.

According to current Nepali regulation, 20 percent of the ownership in a company is required to be held locally by a Nepali citizen.

The deal, however, is yet to be approved from the Department of Industries in Nepal, Nepal Telecommunication Authority, Malaysian Central Bank and Axiata’s shareholders, respectively. Closing of the transaction is expected to take place in the first half of 2016.

“In September we announced our ambition to reduce our presence in our seven Eurasian markets and focus on our operations in the Nordics and Baltics, within the strategy of creating the new TeliaSonera," Johan Dennelind, TeliaSonera’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said in the statement, "Today, I am very pleased to announce a first step and proof point in this reshaping of TeliaSonera. I am also glad to see Axiata as a new owner. That gives me comfort that our dedicated employees are in good hands when taking Ncell to the next level.”

“To make a responsible exit is of utmost importance for us. We will continue our good cooperation with the Nepali government in our engagement of rebuilding Nepal after the earthquake,” he added.

Axiata, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, has more than 260 million customers and 25,000 employees.

It is a reputable company with a strong focus and expertise in South Asia and is also a long-term investor contributing to development and advancements of the countries it operates in, according to the statement.