At the end of 2019, I completed my first year as Chair of Millicom’s Board. I am more impressed than ever with how our digital highways help communities overcome obstacles to access the digital world and enable technological breakthroughs. We are making connections that matter and doing it in the right way.
In 2019, Millicom continued straight and true on a path of delivering on our value proposition and business strategy. Steadfast execution against our strategic pillars resulted in the company delivering key operational targets and achieving a solid financial performance, despite periods of weaker economic activity and political uncertainty in parts of Latin America.
Our unprecedented investments to extend the reach of Millicom’s cable and 4G network across nine countries further strengthened our position as the leading telecommunications provider in these markets. Along with integrating the businesses in Central America from acquired operations from Telefonica and Cable Onda in Panama, we also finalized the sale of Tigo operations in Chad as part of our strategic focus on Latam.
As always, our Governance structure and Business Ethics and Compliance programs were key to navigating some of the risks inherent to operating in emerging markets. Doing business in the right way is a fundamental driver embodied in our new “Sangre Tigo” framework that sets the tone from the top and cascading down through the whole organization. We believe our commitment to ethics and compliance builds strength and success for our company, and positions Tigo as a force for positive change in the countries and communities we serve.
The listing of Millicom’s common shares in the U.S. in NASDAQ Stock Market in January 2019 has opened greater opportunities to reach potential investors and provided additional support for our growth strategy. We paid special attention this year to enhancing controls and policies in our first year of compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
This was also a transformational year of progress in our efforts to bring lasting social, environmental and economic value to the people and communities we serve. I am proud of how we are building our market leadership on a sound strategy that intertwines Millicom’s Corporate Responsibility framework with our business objectives. For us, doing good business and doing what’s right are two sides of the same coin.
Ultimately, it’s our people who bring our ambitious vision to life. We recognize the importance of ensuring that Millicom is a place where employees feel safe, protected and supported in ways that enable them to do well, and enhance their lives and the lives of those around them. I am pleased that we took steps in 2019 to create a more robust Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
2019 ended with another important milestone in our history as the company’s largest long term shareholder, Kinnevik AB, exited as a shareholder through a distribution of its entire 37% stake in Millicom. On behalf of the Board, I want to extend our gratitude for the valuable role Kinnevik has played in our company’s story. Now begins an exciting new chapter for Millicom as a business 100% owned by public shareholders who can trade TIGO on both the U.S. and Stockholm NASDAQ exchanges.
In my first year as Chairman, I deeply appreciated the ways that our newest Board members—Pernille Erenbjerg, Mercedes Johnson and Jim Thompson—stepped into their responsibilities with poise and enthusiasm. We are fortunate to gain their deep business experience and regional knowledge. I also want to recognize the contributions made by Tom Boardman, Anders Jensen and Roger Sole Rafols, who ended their Board service in 2019.
Lastly, I thank the Executive Team for executing our business strategy so capably. Their commitment made a tremendous impact on our performance in 2019 and positioned us for even greater success in 2020 and beyond.
It is my pleasure to share our Annual Report with you. I hope you find this summary of our business and Corporate Responsibility achievements to be as exciting and inspiring as I have.
José Antonio Ríos García Chairman of the Board of Directors