Xavier Neil is thinking of making an offer to buy Millicom

Through his Atlas investment vehicle, French telecoms tycoon Xavier Neil is exploring ways of finding the cash to buy the 80% of Latin American operator group Millicom he doesn’t already own.

Scott Bicheno

May 24, 2024

2 Min Read

The news was apparently leaked to the media because the first official statement made by Atlas said “In light of media reports, Atlas Investissement announces that it is exploring a potential all cash tender offer for Millicom securities. In connection with such preliminary efforts, Atlas is exploring financing options to support an offer price of 24.0 USD per common share, and its SEK equivalent per SDR.”

The channels and format of communication of this sort of thing are rigidly regulated, so we then got the following from Millicom. “The Board of Directors of Millicom International Cellular confirms that it received today a non-binding expression of interest from one of its shareholders, Atlas Luxco… The Board of Directors will carefully review any offer, should one be made.  There is no certainty that a transaction will materialize nor as to the terms, timing or form of any potential transaction.”

The whole thing was made fully official by the filing of a form with the US SEC, which supplemented the above information with the observation by Atlas that the $24 per share price represents ‘a 19% premium to Millicom’s volume-weighted average price for the previous 3 months; a 27% premium over its volume-weighted average price for the previous 6 months and a 38% premium to Millicom’s volume-weighted average price for the previous 12 months.’

While that’s no doubt all true, Millicom’s share price has been bumping along at around $24 for the past week and has been trending at historical lows for the past year. So, as price premiums go, this seems like a modest one. Neil is presumably hoping pessimistic investors will be grateful for the opportunity to cut their losses but it wouldn’t be surprising if the board decided to hold out for a better offer if Neil makes a formal move at this price.

Atlas bought 7% of Millicom back in November 2022 and then, soon after it was reported that another investment group was thinking of buying the company, increased its stake to 20%. Atlas also has minor stakes in nearly all European telcos and Neil, of course, owns Iliad, an operator group with subsidiaries in France (and the French Caribbean), Italy, Poland and Ireland. He clearly thinks he can turn Millicom’s fortunes around and now just needs to sell his vision to other investors, including Millicom shareholders.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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