February 20, 2019 / 11:49 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Millicom spends $1.65 bln on Telefonica Central America mobile businesses

(Adds comments from executive)

Feb 20 (Reuters) - Millicom International Cellular , a cable and mobile operator in Latin America and Africa, said on Wednesday it bought the mobile telecommunications assets of Spain’s Telefonica in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for $1.65 billion .

Telefonica has long been rumored to want to sell in Mexico and Central America. Millicom’s chief operating officer in Latin America, Esteban Iriarte, declined to comment when asked if Millicom was interested in a presence in Mexico.

Last month, Telefonica said it had reached an agreement to sell its Guatemalan and El Salvadoran operations to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil.

While Millicom already operates in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Iriarte said he does not think the acquisition will raise anti-trust concerns because Telefonica’s business is primarily mobile, while Millicom’s is fixed.

“Both of us are operating in Central America, but in different areas,” he said.

The company is eager to add the Telefonica team to its ranks, he said.

“They have a very good base of people in Central America, and it will give us the chance to incorporate new talent in the company,” he said. “It’s great talent to have in the mobile area.” (Reporting by Julia Love in Mexico City; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Will Dunham and Tom Brown)

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