TeliaSonera exits Tajikistan as it pursues Eurasia pullout

By bne IntelliNews September 8, 2016

Nordic telecommunications operator TeliaSonera has agreed to sell its stake in Tajik mobile network operator Tcell as part of its plan to exit the Eurasian region, where it has been subject to allegations of bribery.

The Sweden-based group said it is selling its 60% stake in Central Asian Telecommunications Development B.V., which controls Tcell, to Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). AKFED currently holds a 40% stake in Central Asian Telecommunications Development. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2016 and is subject to regulatory approvals by Tajik authorities.

The transaction price will be based on Tcell’s enterprise value of $66mn, of which TeliaSonera’s 60% share corresponds to $39mn. Based on current foreign exchange rates, the agreed price “implies an EV/EBITDA multiple of approximately 4.0x based on Tcell’s 2015 results”, TeliaSonera said in a statement.

“The divestments of our holding in Tcell is in line with our ambition to reduce our presence in Eurasia and increase focus on our operations in the Nordics and Baltics. AKFED has been a significant shareholder in Tcell since inception, and I am convinced that they will be able to further develop the company,” Telia Company’s President and CEO Johan Dennelind said in the statement.

The company and its external risk consultants conducted due diligence and background checks of the parties in this transaction, the statement noted.

AKFED is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and works in partnership with international organisations and governments to stimulate the private sectors of developing economies, with the aim of generating capital for investment in sustainable development initiatives. AKFED is an established investor in the region with multiple companies in its current portfolio.

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