Russian cellco Vimpelcom has announced the purchase of a 100% stake in PolarCom, which claims to be one of the largest fixed line voice telephony providers in Murmansk, a seaport situated in the extreme north west of Russia. The value of the transaction is believed to be RUB179 million (USD5.8 million). PolarCom currently provides fixed line services for corporate clients and residential customers using its wholly-owned 250km length of fibre-optic infrastructure. Vimpelcom has indicated that the acquisition of PolarCom is part of its fixed line expansion strategy, which aims to spread the provision of fixed line services to Russia’s regions. Going forward, PolarCom is expected to be re-branded as Beeline, in keeping with Vimpelcom’s other operations elsewhere. Russian regional operator North-West Telecom has previously submitted an application for the acquisition of Polarcom on two separate occasions, with both applications rejected by the Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS). PolarCom’s earnings in 2009 amounted to RUB156 million.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Vimpelcom entered the country’s fixed line sector in February 2008, through the USD105 per share takeover of sister company Golden Telecom. Alongside its network investments, Vimpelcom has been one of Russia’s most acquisitive operators in recent years, buying out smaller rivals and expanding its network infrastructure at the same time.