Alfa puts spanner in works of Ukrainian Vimpelcom-Kyivstar merger approval

17 Aug 2010

The Ukrainian News Agency reports that approval from Ukraine’s Antimonopoly Committee (AMCU) on the merger of the market’s leading cellco Kyivstar with Russia’s Vimpelcom has been delayed after the anti-trust agency accused Russian group Alfa of providing incomplete information on the deal. Chairman of the AMCU Oleksii Kostusev said that if Alfa’s telecoms division Altimo does not provide full data as requested a legal case will be opened against it; the firm has been given ten extra days to comply. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that in October 2009 Altimo and Telenor agreed to merge their mutually-owned subsidiary Kyivstar into the Vimpelcom group, forming the new company Vimpelcom Ltd. On 22 April 2010 the AMCU suspended its unconditional approval – issued on 9 March – under a petition from Kyivstar’s domestic rival Astelit, which called for a re-analysis of market shares based on revenues, particularly as Vimpelcom owns two other Ukrainian operators, URS and Golden Telecom (integrated as Beeline Ukraine). Meanwhile, the establishment of US-listed Vimpelcom Ltd went ahead as planned, and is not expected to be challenged by the AMCU, but some local conditions are expected to be introduced, likely to include the surrendering of certain wireless frequencies held by Kyivstar and/or Beeline Ukraine. According to Kostusev, during its investigation so far the AMCU has obtained fresh information on the matter that may affect its decision-making. Kostusev indicated in mid July that the AMCU might finalise revisions to its permission for the merger by late August, although the process could drag on until as late as October.

Ukraine, Beeline (Russia), Kyivstar, VEON (formerly VimpelCom)