WASHINGTON, D.C., April 9, 1999 --- The
International Finance Corporation, together with Dresdner Kleinwort Benson
(DrKB), Société Générale (SG) and WestLB have finalized the largest private
financing ever undertaken in Moldova, for Voxtel S.A. to establish a nation-wide
Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular telephone network.
Voxtel, a private cellular operator in Moldova, was granted a 15-year GSM
license by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. It started digital
GSM operations in October 1998 during difficult economic times in Moldova,
but has nonetheless attracted more than 9,000 subscribers to its networks.
The company already operates a nationwide NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone)
IFC's US$40 million debt financing package consists of a senior loan of
$10 million and a subordinated loan of $5 million, both for IFC's account,
and a syndicated IFC B Loan of $25 million for the account of Dresdner
and Société Générale, which jointly underwrote the IFC B Loan, as well
as WestLB. IFC is also investing in 5 percent of Voxtel's share capital.
The financing package covers the initial three years of the company's investment
The shareholders of Voxtel are France Telecom Mobile International (FTMI),
Moldovan Mobile Telephone Bis (MMT), Moldtelecom and Mobil Rom. FTMI is
the international subsidiary for cellular operations of France Telecom
with a strong presence in Europe, including investments in Moldova, Poland,
Romania and Slovakia. MMT has interests in the Moldovan telecom sector
as well as construction, financial services and media. Moldtelecom is the
national fixed line operator of Moldova. Mobil Rom is one of the two GSM
cellular operators in Romania. Both FTMI and Mobil Rom provide operational
and technical support to Voxtel.
The loan agreement for the IFC investment was signed by Mr. Kent Lupberger,
Telecommunications Manager at IFC and Mr. Luc Solente, Director General
of Voxtel. Mr. Lupberger said that by making its first investment in the
Moldovan telecommunication sector, IFC is helping to upgrade the country's
infrastructure while encouraging further private initiatives. The company's
modern nationwide cellular networks support the urgent needs for more and
better telecommunications services of an emerging business community, including
many small- and medium-sized enterprises, he said.
SG, which has developed expertise in the telecommunication sector, committed
at the earliest stage of this project because it is convinced of the potential
of the Moldovan telecommunication market, according to Gaëlle Muller, Managing
Director at SG in charge of Telecommunications and IT. She said that the
expansion of the telecommunication infrastructure in Moldova is essential
to the long term development of the country and would be part of the proven
success of mobile telephony in Eastern Europe.
DrKB is known for its commitment to institutional development in Eastern
Europe, as well as its expertise in the telecommunication sector. The establishment
of Moldova's telephone system, constitutes an important cornerstone for
the enhancement of Moldova's structural and economic development. Dresdner
Bank Luxembourg S.A., the lending office, is an arranger and provider of
funds in this transaction.
IFC, part of the World Bank Group, fosters economic growth in the developing
world by financing private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the
international financial markets, and providing technical assistance and
advice to governments and businesses. To date, IFC has approved investments
of $2.3 billion in telecommunications projects worldwide, of which $1 billion
was for IFC's account.