IFC Invests in Virgin Mobile Colombia

December 18, 2012—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is investing up to $14 million in Virgin Mobile Colombia to accelerate the company’s entry into the country’s telecommunications market, encourage competition and innovation, and expand access to affordable voice and broadband services.

Virgin Mobile Colombia will enter the Colombian market next year as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), a service provider that purchases wholesale voice and data from an established mobile network operator. The company will primarily cater to youth, a market segment that is currently underserved by traditional mobile network operators. IFC’s investment will help spark innovation—by encouraging the development of competitive information-technology services and new applications for mobile devices.

“We look forward to replicating the tremendous success we have enjoyed with Virgin Mobile in Chile when we enter the Colombian market next year,” said Peter Macnee, President and CEO of Virgin Mobile Latin America. “The support of IFC has been central to our strong start in Chile, and they are very much part of our team in Colombia.”

“IFC’s investment will introduce competition and stimulate Colombia’s mobile market by raising the bar through transparent prepaid offerings, attractive data-centric plans, and best-in-class customer service,” said Guillermo Mulville, IFC Principal Investment Officer. “Greater competition leads to better service at more affordable prices, which ultimately benefits consumers—particularly those that are not well-served by existing providers.”

Irene Arias, IFC Regional Manager for the Andean Region, said: “This investment is aligned with IFC’s strategy in Colombia to support long-term and inclusive growth by fostering entrepreneurship and innovative business models.”

Telecommunications regulators throughout Latin America and the Caribbean are facilitating the entrance of MVNOs to expand access to affordable mobile voice and broadband services for segments of the population that lack it.

Earlier this year IFC invested in Virgin Mobile Chile. The company had more than 120,000 customers in its first six months of operation. Virgin Mobile Chile and other MVNOs are helping transform the Chilean mobile telecoms market by introducing competition into the market, with new services, more transparency, and better customer service.