France's Xavier Niel buys Monaco Telecom for €322M

Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) has finally succeeded in offloading its stake in Monaco Telecom for the princely sum of €322 million ($445 million), ending a saga that has dragged on since at least 2012.

In a statement, CWC said it has agreed to sell Compagnie Monégasque de Communication (CMC), the holding company for CWC's 55 per cent stake in Monaco Telecom, to a private investment vehicle controlled by the French entrepreneur Xavier Niel.

CWC had previously agreed to sell the majority of its holdings in the Monaco & Islands division to Bahrain-based Batelco, but that deal fell through last year and led to CWC buying back a 25 per cent stake in CMC it had already sold to Batelco.

At the time CWC said that gaining government approval for the sale of Monaco Telecom was proving more difficult than expected, but said it had alternative options available.

The Principality of Monaco has already approved the deal with Xavier Niel, who is the founder of French operator Iliad and its Free Mobile unit. The sale is now only conditional upon the approval of CWC shareholders.

CWC noted that the sale of Monaco Telecom is a further step in its strategy to focus on the Caribbean and Latin America region, with the exception of the Seychelles.

"Over 10 years under our management and in partnership with the Principality we have enhanced the services available to the residents and businesses of Monaco and achieved good returns," said Phil Bentley, CEO of CWC. "However, as we concentrate our business on the Caribbean and Latin America, we have taken this opportunity to crystallise the value we have created," Bentley added.

CWC said the sale puts it in a strong position to pursue growth opportunities in its target areas of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Monaco Telecom is the incumbent telecoms provider in Monaco. CMC reported revenue of $218 million, EBITDA of $74 million and profit before tax of $52 million in the 12 months to March 31, 2013.

CWC was one of two standalone units in Cable & Wireless until 2010, when Cable & Wireless Worldwide separated from CWC through a demerger in March 2010. Cable & Wireless Worldwide focuses on the provision of enterprise services and is now part of the Vodafone Group.

For more:
- see this CWC statement

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