Emirates Telecommunications Corporation or Etisalat has confirmed it has bid for the celco Tigo, the Sri Lankan unit of Luxembourg-based telecom operator Millicom. The UAE telecom giant made the announcement in a filing with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.
Millicom International Cellular is selling its assets in Sri Lanka, Laos and Cambodia as part of an exit from Asian operations. Etisalat said Monday it made the bid on September 4 but did not disclose financial details
Last month, India’s Economic Times said Bharti Airtel is planning to bid for Sri Lanka’s Tigo and estimated the Sri Lankan mobile network operator to be worth between 150 – 200 million US dollars.
UAE’s Etisalat executives were in Sri Lanka recently looking at new investment opportunities in the island whose 30-year ethnic war ended in May with the defeat by government forces of Tamil Tiger rebels.
VimpelCom, Russia’s second largest mobile company, which has operations in Cambodia, had also said it was interested in Tigo.
There have also been reports that Malaysia-based Axiata group which owns Sri Lanka’s mobile market leader Dialog was interested, although these were subsequently played down in Malaysian newspapers.
Formerly known as “Celltel”, Millicom pioneered mobile services in South Asia when it commenced an analog network in Sri Lanka in 1989. Since then four more players have entered the hotly-contested cellular market of just over 11 million users. Tigo now trails at third place with a little over two million subscribers.