It’s being widely reported that Millicom International Cellular, the Latin American telecommunications company, is a takeover target.
Though no firm offer seems to have been made or accepted yet, the UK Financial Times says the potential purchasers, buyout group Apollo Global Management and former SoftBank executive Marcelo Claure, are valuing Millicom at about US$10 billion, including debt.
The paper says the would-be buyers are attempting to structure their bid in a way that would avoid them repaying or refinancing about $6.9 billion of Millicom’s existing debts. This is apparently because of the chaotic state of financial markets and a large increase in interest rates, which, in turn, may affect banks’ willingness to write large new loans, especially as, the FT says, they are struggling to offload billions of dollars in debt tied to private equity takeovers.
Nevertheless Apollo has spent heavily in recent years in the communications sector, so it obviously sees potential in Millicom.
Millicom has often been featured in these pages, not least during the period when it sold off its African business to focus on its Tigo brand for mobile and cable services in Latin America where it has about 50 million customers. It also offers Tigo Money, a digital payments product.
Given the sell-off of its African assets, it does seem odd that Millicom may have cash flow issues, though the FT says its stock has been hit by the weak Colombian peso and worries about expenditure during the first nine months of 2022, not to mention a difficult macro environment and high inflation.
The paper also points out that Millicom has said there is no certainty that the Apollo transaction will go ahead.