Millicom Chief Optimistic After LatAm Refocus


Millicom CEO Mauricio Ramos talked-up the company’s growth prospects in key Latin American markets after reinvesting cash raised from asset sales in Africa, though macroeconomic challenges blunted its progress in Q4 2019.

In its quarterly and annual results statement, Ramos said 2019 had been a transformational year with acquisition of mobile assets in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama allowing it to provide converged services across its nine markets in Latin America.

He added these acquisitions, and investments made during Q4 on spectrum in El Salvador and Colombia, were part funded by cash raised by its exit from Chad and IPOs of its interests in Africa-focused retailer Jumia and Helios Towers.

However, the company pointed to stiff competition in Panama, and continued political uncertainty in Bolivia following a coup in November 2019 as hampering its performance.

“2019 was more challenging than we had anticipated due to political disruption and competitive pressure in some markets,” Ramos said. “But I believe that we are now stronger than ever to capture the opportunities that lie ahead in 2020 and beyond.”

He added the issues faced by Millicom in 2019 could continue to impact it in the near term, but was confident its continued investments would allow it to “capture the long-term opportunity”.

In Q4 2019 Millicom booked a net profit of US$223 million compared to a loss of US$94 million in Q4 2018. The company noted comparisons were not meaningful due to the significant impact of acquisitions, divestments and one-off items in both quarters.

Revenue increased 17 per cent year-on-year to US$1.2 billion, a rise attributed to cash brought in by acquired business units.

Across the year, net profit was US$149 million compared with a loss of US$10 million in 2018, on revenue of US$5.9 billion, up 8.7 per cent.-Mobile World Live

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