Alfa Telecom seeks western Western ally

8 Aug 2005

Russia’s biggest telecoms group Alfa Telecom is seeking a Western partner and, according to reports in the UK newspaper The Independent on Sunday, has held ‘concrete discussions’ with Western companies over a possible merger or joint alliance. Alfa chief executive Alexey Reznikovich declined to divulge the names of the companies involved, although some analysts speculate that possible partners include Vodafone, Belgacom, Swisscom or even Telefónica.

Alfa Telecom is part of the Alfa Group, a privately owned conglomerate headed by Mikhail Fridman. Alfa owns around 24% of Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom which is listed on Nasdaq and which has a market valuation of approximately GBP4.5 billion. Mr Reznikovich told the newspaper that Alfa is looking to expand its presence into emerging markets such as Indonesia, adding that Alfa’s experiences in developing Russia’s ‘new market’ would make it a useful ally to any Western company looking to exploit mobile services in underdeveloped countries.