Xavier Niel expands empire to Senegal in Tigo deal

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Iliad owner Xavier Niel ousts local bidder Wari to buy Tigo Senegal from Millicom

Millicom has dropped a $129 million deal to sell its operation in Senegal to a local digital financial company in favour of a consortium including the owner of France’s Iliad/Free.

The company, which runs services under the Tigo brand in Africa and Latin America, gave no reason for the change of heart – and did not put a price on the new deal.

It said that “it has exercised its right to terminate its agreement to sell its Tigo operations in Senegal to Wari Group”.

The new purchaser, subject to approvals, will be “a consortium consisting of NJJ, Sofima – telecom investment vehicle managed by the Axian Group – and Teyliom Group”.

NJJ Holding is the private holding company of Xavier Niel, the founder and main shareholder of Iliad, the French telecoms company that runs fixed and mobile operations under the Free brand.

In 2015 Niel used NJJ Holding to buy Orange Switzerland for €2.3 billion. The operation is now called Salt Mobile. The holding company also paid $445 million to Cable & Wireless Communications for its 55% stake in Monaco Telecom. For a brief period in 2016 NJJ Holding had a small stake in Telecom Italia.

Millicom also gave details of the other two partners. Axian Group is present in infrastructure and services in countries located in the Indian Ocean and Africa, including telecommunications through Telma, Tom, TRM and Telco OI. The group belongs to the Hiridjee family, which comes from Madagascar with Indo-Pakistani background.

Teyliom is a diversified investment holding group focused on West and Central Africa and controlled by Yérim Sow, a Senegalese businessman who is its sole shareholder. His Teyliom Telecom owns 7% of MTN’s operation in Côte d’Ivoire. The company runs call centres in west Africa for European companies.