UPDATE 1-Millicom boosts stakes in Africa, Latam online firms

Tue Mar 5, 2013 4:14am EST

* Raises LIH, AIH stakes to 35 pct from 20 pct

* Strong performance since initial stakes bought in 2012

* Sees growth in e-commerce in Africa, Latin America

STOCKHOLM, March 5 (Reuters) - Emerging markets telecoms group Millicom said on Tuesday it would take up an option to raise its stakes in two online service ventures in Latin America and Africa as it seeks to boost growth from e-commerce in developing nations.

After years of rapid expansion, Sweden's Millicom has shifted focus from acquiring new subscribers to selling money-spinning services like cash transfer and cable TV to clients.

As part of that strategy, it said it would boost its ownership of online and e-commerce ventures Latin America Internet Holdings and Africa Internet Holdings to 35 percent from the 20 it bought in 2012 from venture partner Rocket Internet.

"Sooner than we thought, our joint ventures in Africa and Latin America have achieved leading positions in key segments of the growing online market," Millicom president and chief executive Hans-Holger Albrecht said in a statement.

It said that its Jumia e-commerce operation was a leading site in Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt.

It said that it would invest 85 million euros in the operations via a cash injection.

"As a consequence of the accelerated investments, the higher end of the previously-communicated outlook for 2013 revenue growth and EBITDA investments for the Online division should be expected," it added, sticking to other financial targets.

Rocket Internet is partly owned by Millicom's biggest owner, holding company Kinnevik. ($1 = 0.7687 euros) (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, editing by Patrick Lannin)