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French Billionaire Xavier Niel Refinances Personal Holdings

French billionaire telecoms mogul Xavier Niel has pledged almost half of his stake in his main French telecom company, Iliad, as part of a financing plan for his personal holding company.

In a statement issued by Iliad on Thursday, the company disclosed that Mr Niel had reorganized and simplified all of his holdings in recent months. The bulk of his shares in Iliad are now owned by a holding company, and not directly by  Niel, according to the press statement issued by company. He pledged 14.8 million shares as part in the deal.

“The purpose of this reorganization is, in particular, to allow him to better structure his projects in telecoms,” the statement said.

Along with the reorganization, Mr Niel put in place financing for the holding company to strengthen its liquidity and diversify its sources of funding, according to the statement.

Iliad has a market capitalization of more than $7.4 billion. The company’s stock has shed off more than 40% of its value this year as the company lost mobile-phone and broadband customers to competitors in its home market. Iliad is seeking redemption in new markets and has recently expanded into new markets such as Italy and Ireland. In May,  Niel’s private holding company, NJJ partnered with Malagasy millionaire Hassanein Hiridjee’s Sofima and Senegalese tycoon Yerim Sow’s Teyliom Group, to acquire Millicom’s Tigo Senegal business for an undisclosed sum.

Niel, 51, is Iliad’s deputy chairman and chief strategy officer. He owns a 52% of the company, or about 30.8 million shares. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his net worth at $4.6 billion.