Share this page

IFC Invests US$25 Million in Bolivian Telephone Company

Washington, D.C., August 3, 2001— The International Finance Corporation has disbursed US$25 million in financing to Teléfonica Celular de Bolivia S.A. (Telecel) to help fund expansion and further digitization of the Telecel mobile cellular telecommunications network and refinance existing debt.  The project will to help improve communications in Bolivia, increase efficiency in the business community, and provide better links to the global economy.
IFC invested $15 million for its own account and helped arrange the remaining $10 million in participant loans from BCEE Luxembourg and Nordea (Sweden).  A parallel loan of $10 million was provided by FMO, also known as the Netherlands Development Finance Company.  This is FMO’s first loan to Telecel and is the first in a series of investments in the Bolivian economy.
The financing represents IFC's second investment in Telecel Bolivia.  In 1996, IFC arranged loans of $35 million to finance the expansion of the company’s network from eight cell sites to a total of 52.
Mohsen Khalil, Director of  IFC's Global Information and Communication Technologies Department, said, “This investment will actively promote competition and make cellular communications more accessible to larger segments of the population.  It also demonstrates IFC's commitment to support the development of Bolivia's private sector and its economic growth.”
Telecel is wholly owned by Millicom International Cellular SA (MIC), a leading international operator of cellular telephone services in emerging markets where wireline penetration rates are relatively low and subscriber growth prospects are very attractive in comparison with the more mature western markets.  MIC currently has interests in 34 operations in 21 countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa, covering a population under cellular license of about 584 million.
Telecel ( ), one of three mobile operators in Bolivia, launched its service in November 1991 as the first cellular mobile operator in the country.  Since 1996, Telecel has exceeded projections with the number of subscribers increasing from 10,000 to over 300,000.
The mission of IFC ( ), part of the World Bank Group, is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives.  IFC finances private sector investments in emerging markets, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.