Axiata Group exits Nepal operations with Ncell Axiata stake sale

(Reuters) – Malaysian telecommunications and digital conglomerate Axiata Group said on Friday it is exiting the Nepal market with the sale of Reynolds Holding, which holds an 80% stake in Ncell Axiata, to Spectrlite UK.

Axiata will sell Ncell, its mobile service unit in Nepal, for a fixed consideration of $50 million.

The terms of the deal also include a conditional consideration of a share of distributions based on the future business performance and net distributions declared by Ncell until 2029.

Axiata had acquired the controlling stake in Ncell in 2016 following the purchase of Reynolds Holding for $1.37 billion.

“The group’s decision to withdraw from Nepal is based on a thorough evaluation of the prevailing business environment in Nepal,” Axiata said in a statement. Continuing operations under the “current conditions of unfair taxation and regulatory uncertainties” were no longer sustainable for the company, it added.

Earlier this week, Axiata, backed by Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, reported a wider third-quarter net loss of 797.4 million ringgit ($171.50 million) compared with 52.4 million ringgit a year earlier.

(Reporting by John Biju in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shilpi Majumdar)