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Virgin Mobile secures $11M for Chilean operations; to launch in Colombia later this year

After securing U.S.$26.5 million in new equity funding to develop its regional business and launch mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services in Chile, Virgin Mobile Latin America (VMLA) announced it has closed on a U.S.$11 million debt funding agreement with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. This new funding agreement complements the previous one and will be used to enhance Chilean operations, the company told RCR Wireless News.

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The strategic $11 million debt facility will provide VMLA capital to speed its entry into the Chilean mobile market. Chile was the first Latin American country where the company launched MVNO services. Last April, the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, went to the country’s capital of Santiago for the Virgin Mobile Chile launch.

VMLA announced that it would launch an MVNO in Colombia later this year, and the company is working on opportunities in other countries diligently. In May, Jeffery Buckwalter, VMLA’s senior vice president for business development, told RCR Wireless News that the Colombian and Brazilian launches will happen in the next 18 months.

VLMA and IFC are currently in talks about partnering to enhance the mobile market in a number of Latin American countries including Brazil and Colombia.

In Chile, VMLA said that it has quickly acquired about 65,000 customers since its launch less than four months ago. The company claims that its growth rate in Chile continues to increase as mobile consumers become aware of Virgin Mobile’s products and services.

“IFC’s confidence in our VMLA leadership team and the Chilean market strategy is an excellent endorsement for our pan-regional business plan,” said Pete Macnee, VMLA president and CEO. “We are working toward our second launch in Colombia later this year and look to extend our relationship with IFC as we build our business.”

Guillermo Mulville, principal investment officer with IFC’s Telecom, Media and Technology Group, said that “broadening access to affordable mobile telecommunications services remains a crucial part of enhancing economic development and improving lives across Latin America.”

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