(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Xavier Niel is exploring a bid to buy out other shareholders of Millicom International Cellular SA that would value the Latin American carrier at about $4.1 billion. 

Niel’s holding company Atlas Investissement SASU is in the preliminary stages of considering a potential all-cash tender offer for Millicom, according to a statement Thursday that confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report. It’s exploring financing options to support an offer price of $24 per Millicom common share, Atlas said in the statement. 

The shares rose as much as 2.3% in New York to trade about in-line with the offer price. Millicom’s Swedish depositary receipts were up 2.1% as of 4:30 p.m. in Stockholm, putting them on track for the highest close since September 2021.

Millicom’s board confirmed later Thursday that it had received a non-binding expression of interest from Atlas indicating that it’s exploring financing options to support a potential all-cash tender offer at $24 a share. The board said it would “carefully review any offer, should one be made.”

Bloomberg News reported earlier that Niel was considering a possible bid to buy out other Millicom shareholders and had sounded out banks on financing for the deal. Niel is already the biggest shareholder in the company with a 29% stake, according to the latest Millicom annual report. 

Atlas cannot guarantee an offer will materialize, it said in the statement.

This marks at least the second time in two years that Millicom has been an active takeover target. Millicom, which provides telecom services under the Tigo brand to more than 50 million subscribers, was in talks last year on a possible sale to Apollo Global Management Inc. and Claure Group. Niel took a stake in the company amid those discussions. 

Millicom is valued at about $11 billion including debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and its high borrowing level could be an obstacle to a deal. 

The company is headquartered in Luxembourg and listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. It provides fixed and mobile telecom services, as well as digital services like pay TV and high-speed data, serving customers in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay. It reported sales last year of $5.6 billion, according to its website.

Niel, the 56-year-old founder of French telecom provider Iliad SA, has an estimated net worth of about $9.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He continues to be an active dealmaker and is among bidders competing to acquire Altice’s Portuguese business, Bloomberg News has reported. 

--With assistance from Dinesh Nair and Michelle F. Davis.

(Updates with Millicom board statement in fourth paragraph)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.