Altimo, the telecoms arm of Russian investment group Alfa, has denied speculation that it may have to sell off part of its stake in the country’s second largest cellular operator by subscribers, Vimpelcom, to raise funds to meet banking obligations. Altimo pledged a 16% interest in Vimplecom to secure a USD1.5 billion loan with Deutsche Bank in 2007. In a statement, the company said: ‘Altimo reconfirms that it continues to fulfil its obligations according to all current loan agreements and has no financial problems relating to these agreements.’ Vimpelcom signed a new unsecured USD760 million loan last week to help fund the expansion and development of its networks, including possible overseas acquisitions. The loan was agreed with The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, Standard Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and WestLB.
Meanwhile, Vimpelcom has reportedly agreed a USD226 million deal to take a 49.9% stake in Russian mobile handset retail chain Euroset. Reuters, quoting local newspaper Vedemosti, says Vimpelcom has agreed a deal which will see it paying USD580 million in total for the stake and to refinance Euroset’s debt.