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olombian mobile operator Celumovil plans to invest US$24mn this year to increase its client base and strengthen its infrastructure. The company aims to add 80,000 clients to its current client base of 708,000.
Celumovil is also keen to seek a strategic partner, according to incoming Celumovil president Luis Carlos Valenzuela. US-based BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) and Spain's Telefonica (NYSE: TEF) have already shown interest in participating.
Valenzuela dismissed the company's US$234.5mn losses in 1999, attributing a US$153.6mn loss to the devaluation of the Colombian peso and the remainder to significant investment in hardware and licenses. Capital spending offset an operating profit of US$79.8mn, an improvement on results for 1998 as a result of prepaid plans and a 23% cut in operating costs.
Celumovil now has 15% penetration of the market and expects this to grow five-fold over the next eight to 10 years without taking clients from rival companies. Client growth in 1999 was up 15% compared to end 1998.