Senegalese President approves the sale of Tigo to consortium led by French Billionaire Xavier Niel

Senegalese President Macky Sall has approved the sale of Millicom’s Tigo business to the Saga Africa Holdings consortium, owned by a group of investors that includes French billionaire Xavier Niel for an undisclosed amount.

The government of Senegal intervened in the deal after Millicom, in July 2017, terminated an initial agreement of $129 million, made with a Senegalese FinTech company owned by entrepreneur Kabirou Mbodje, Wari in February same year for the purchase of Tigo.

Instead of continuing with the agreement signed Millicom sold the business to Saga Africa Holdings saying that Wari did not provide the financing required for the deal, a charge Wari denies. Wari in October last year issued a statement stating that it has sued Millicom to the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, over the termination of the deal. It also said that the transfer of Tigo’s mobile license to Wari was approved by a presidential decree in August and warned Millicom’s shareholders that the company would need official approval to carry out the sale to the consortium.

In reaction to the issue, the president of Senegal last year said that if the companies failed to reach an agreement his government would make its own ruling on the Tigo deal.

The consortium which Tigo has been sold to includes NJJ, a holding company based in France and owned by Xavier Niel, the founder and main shareholder of Iliad, Sofima a telecommunications investment vehicle managed by Axian Group – which operates primarily in the India Ocean and Africa and provides telecommunications infrastructure and services in these regions – and Teyliom Group, a diversified holding group focused on the regions of West and Central Africa and owned by Senegalese entrepreneur Yerim Sow.

The acquisition of Tigo, which is Senegal’s second largest mobile operator, will increase its competition with French telecoms giant Orange.

Tigo Senegal was launched in 1999, and it has more than 3.3 million customers, who use its mobile, Internet and financial services. Tigo Senegal offers GSM, 3G, 3.5G and 4G networks to its customers, employs about 387 people directly and 15,000 indirectly with a sales force of more than 2,000 people across the country. It has invested more than US$220 million between 2012 to 2014 in the Senegalese market.  In December 2014, Tigo became the first telco to launch 4G in the capital Dakar.