International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector lending arm of the World Bank, has organised a US$100 million investment in Cambodian operator CamGSM in an effort to expand the company’s network coverage and services, particularly in rural areas. IFC is providing up to US$40 million of its own money and has attracted an additional US$60 million from international banks ABN AMRO, Cordiant Capital, DnB NOR and Nordea. “IFC is providing long-term financing, which is not readily accessible in frontier markets like Cambodia,” said Jeffrey Noble, CamGSM’s interim CEO, in a statement. “This is a wonderful vote of confidence in Cambodia at a time when the impact of the global recession has started to affect the economy.”
Branded in the market as ‘Mobitel,’ CamGSM is Cambodia’s largest mobile operator with 2.1 million subscribers according to Wireless Intelligence and a dominant 60 percent market share. CamGSM aims to use the investment to add an additional 2 million subscribers by 2010, whilst helping local businesses grow by providing them with better mobile Internet coverage. CamGSM currently has a small proportion of its customer base – 2 percent – connected to 3G networks. New applications such as m-banking, healthcare and farmers being able to keep up with local market prices have been touted as benefits to local communities. CamGSM is majority owned (61.5 percent) by Millicom Holdings Cambodia, a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular. Since Millicom launched in the 1990s (now operating mobile networks in 16 countries), IFC has made nine investments in the company’s operations in Asia and Central and South America.