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IFC Supports Telecom Development in Lao P.D.R.

Vientiane, May 4, 2005 —  The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has agreed to provide Millicom Lao Co., Ltd. a $4 million loan to upgrade and expand the company’s cellular telecommunications network in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  IFC’s support for this project encourages the development of the communications sector while supporting private participation in infrastructure projects in Laos. This is IFC’s fifth investment, and the largest, in Laos.
“IFC’s investment demonstrates that infrastructure can be provided effectively by the private sector, thereby supporting the government’s transition to a market-based economy. It sends an important message about the potential role that the privately-driven information technology sector can play in the economic growth in East Asia”, said IFC’s Global Information and Communication Technologies Director, Mohsen Khalil. Javed Hamid, IFC’s Director for East Asia and the Pacific, said, “This investment is part of our strategy to support the private sector and infrastructure development goals of IFC and the World Bank Group in this frontier market.”
“After two years of operation, Millicom Lao has achieved national coverage in 17 out of 18 provinces, reflecting strong market demand and a good cooperation with the Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction of Laos. The company will accelerate investments in the coming years to expand coverage as well as increase capacity in existing areas of coverage, to accommodate the strong subscriber number growth. Millicom Lao will finance these investments with its operating cash flow and with this $4 million loan agreed with IFC”, said Millicom’s South East Asia Cluster Manager and Millicom Lao Director, Simon Perkins.
Millicom Lao is one of four telecommunication operators in the country and the only one that is majority privately owned. The company was awarded its license in January 2002, and began commercial operations in 2003.  It is owned 78 percent by Millicom International Cellular S.A. and 22 percent by the Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction of Laos.
Millicom International Cellular S.A. ( www.millicom.com ) is a global telecommunications investor with cellular operations in Asia, Latin America and Africa.  It currently has a total of 17 cellular operation and licenses in 16 countries.  The group’s cellular operations have a combined population under license of approximately 399 million. MIC is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market (MICC), Stockholm and Luxembourg Stock Exchanges (MIC).
The mission of IFC ( www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.