Axiata Group buys Nepal's Ncell for $1.36b

Malaysia-based Axiata Group has entered the Nepal telecoms market with the acquisition of the nation's largest mobile operator Ncell.

Axiata has paid $1.36 billion for an effective 80% stake in Ncell from previous owners TeliaSonera UTA Holdings and Reynolds Holdings' SEA Telecom Investments.

Local partner Sunivera Capital Ventures will retain a 20% direct stake in Ncell, as required under Nepalese law.

Axiata group CEO Dato' Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim commented that Ncell represents a perfect expansion opportunity for the group.

“One key ambition we have is to effectively offer high-speed data connectivity, and exciting products and services to meet the demands of a young and maturing Nepali market,” he said.

“There are tremendous opportunities for us to grow with the nation for the longer term. As a Group respected for its commitment to corporate responsibility and governance, we will play an integral role with the Nepali government and civil society, and contribute towards the socioeconomic development of the country and her people.”

Axiata is already exploring synergies including opportunities to serve Nepal's overseas foreign workers segment, which number around 1 million in Malaysia alone.

The operator plans to launch special products for Ncell customers offering discounted prices for Ncell customers roaming within the Ncell footprint.

Axiata Group said its combined footprint in South and Southeast Asia now covers a total population of over 2 billion.

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