The move to buy out the minority shareholders will leave Proximus with 100% of the shares in BICS
In the summer of 2020, Proximus said that it was considering a potential sale of its majority share in its international wholesale arm BICS (Belgacom International Carrier Services). However, the operator quickly realised that the best way to ‘create long-term value’ was not to sell their equity, but rather to gain 100% ownership.
Since then, Proximus has been in discussions with minority shareholders Swisscom and MTN, who each hold 22.4%, and 20% stakes, respectively.
Today, the resulting deal has finally been announced, with Proximus to pay Swisscom €110 million and MTN €100.3 million for the entirety of their minority stakes.
Proximus says it will now be able to focus on increasing the revenue from BICS’ subsidiary TeleSign and would work towards further growth for both BICS and TeleSign.
"I am excited to conclude this agreement, allowing us to retain a growth engine within the Group and maintain full control over the globally renowned assets of BICS and TeleSign,” said CEO, Proximus Group CEO Guillaume Boutin.
"I am convinced we can unlock the next growth phase of BICS and leverage BICS’ potential to consolidate a scattered market, while continuing to invest in key growth areas. Furthermore, we want to support TeleSign’s fast growth as digital leader in programmable communications and digital identity services.”
For MTN, this sale should not come as a big surprise, since the company is already in the process of divesting its portfolio in an effort to reduce debt and improve revenue over the next five years.
Similarly, Swisscom commented that it was “the right time” to sell its stake in the company, implying that BICS was not “strategically relevant” to their interests at this time.
Nonetheless, commercial contracts with both MTN and Swisscom will remain in place; BICS currently handles the Swisscom’s international telephone minutes business.
The deal is, of course, subject to regulatory approval.
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