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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Banks launch sell down of $421m Mobitel loan

Banks launch sell down of $421m Mobitel loan

ANZ and Standard Bank reportedly offer up to 14.73pc interest

ANZ and Standard Bank launched the sell down of a US$421 million 18-month bridging loan this week, to back the Royal Group’s acquisition of Millicom’s majority stake in Mobitel.

The loan covers the Royal Group’s November purchase of Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular SA’s network operations in the Kingdom for $346 million. The acquisitions included a 58.4 percent holding in Mobitel, Royal Telecom International Co Ltd and Cambodia Broadcasting Service Co Ltd.

The debt-leveraged deal is thought to have given the Royal Group 100 percent ownership of Mobitel in an agreement lead-arranged by ANZ bank.

The loan also refinances debt, including a $100 million loan arranged by International Finance Corporation in 2008.

Royal Group Chief Financial Officer Mark Hanna said Thursday that the loan sell down was “standard procedure” in the acquisition, “the biggest of its kind ever done in the region”.

Highlighting the fact that a Cambodian group was able to buy out a majority stake from a major international company, Hanna said: “It really increases the exposure that Cambodia gets.”

He added that the assets bought from Millicom form “a central part” of the Royal Group’s plans for the future.

A spokeswoman for ANZ, which is book-running and arranging the sell down together with Standard Bank, said via email from Singapore Thursday that the loan was put out for syndication on Monday.

Responses are due in the last week of April this year, she said. Lenders have been invited to join at five ticket levels, Reuters reported Thursday, paying interest of as much as 14.73 percent.

“According to Thomson Reuters LPC data, only eight syndicated loans have been completed in Cambodia, and this facility is the country’s biggest-ever corporate deal,” the ANZ spokeswoman added.

The Royal Group partnered global telecoms company Millicom for a total of 14 years.

After a strategic review of its South-East Asia assets, Millicom decided to sell its holding to its joint partner. On announcing the then prospective deal last August, Mikael Grahne, CEO of Millicom, said in a press release: “We are very proud of having played an important role in the development of the leading mobile operator in Cambodia and are very confident of the continued success of Mobitel and its people within the Royal Group.”

Millicom also approved the sale of its Laotian operations to Russia’s JSC Vimpel-Communications (VimpelCom) for $65 million. Moscow-based Vimpelcom is the parent company of Beeline, the newest entrant to Cambodia’s crowded market for mobile-phone service. It announced last week that it had garnered more than 370,000 active subscribers in the Kingdom since its launch last May.

Last week, Huawei Technologies, China’s largest private hi-tech enterprise, signed a $200 million cooperation agreement with Mobitel to extend its network.

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