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Novator Partners to invest $1 bln in Colombia telecoms infrastructure

BOGOTA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - London-based investment firm Novator Partners will invest $1 billion in infrastructure projects in Colombia over the next five years following the launch of its WOM mobile telephone brand in the Andean country, it said late on Thursday.

The launch of the new mobile phone brand comes four months after Novator Partners acquired a majority stake in telecommunications company Avantel for an undisclosed amount.

The sum will be used to install more than 8,000 antennas and to build WOM’s network, which will bring connectivity to 675 rural location, Novator said in a statement. The investment is expected to create 2,500 direct jobs and more than 5,000 indirect jobs.

“Colombia’s mobile telephone sector is static; the concentration of the mobile market has delayed key investments for the development of the country,” Chris Bannister, CEO of WOM in Colombia, said in a statement on Thursday.

“The country needs a fourth operator to push change and improve access to connectivity for all Colombians,” he added.

WOM will compete in a market of 66.4 million mobile phone subscribers dominated by Claro, which is followed by Movistar and Tigo.

WOM already has a presence in Iceland, Poland and Chile.

Following a bandwidth auction in Colombia, Novator Partners won 20 Mega Hertz (MHz) in the 700 MHz spectrum and 30 MHz in the 2,500 MHz spectrum in December.

However, in January the company said it would rescind 10 MHz in the 2,500 MHz spectrum, for which it was fined 42 billion pesos ($11.6 million).

($1 = 3,763.82 Colombian pesos)

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra, Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise