Russian telecoms giant Vimpelcom has exercised its option to purchase a 50.1% stake in Menacrest, owner of Kyrgyz mobile network operator Sky Mobile, Bloomberg reports, citing Russian newspaper Vedomosti. Vimpelcom acquired the stake from Kazakhstan-based Crowell Investments in exchange for writing off USD150 million of debt. Artem Minaev, a representative for the Russian firm, did not specify when the company plans to use the option it holds on the remaining 49.9% of Menacrest. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in February 2008 Vimpelcom lent Crowell Investments USD350 million for a term of 18 months (subsequently extended to 11 February 2014) at an interest rate of 10% per annum. As collateral, Crowell granted Vimpelcom a security interest over 25% of the shares of Limnotex (the parent of Kazakh cellco Kar-Tel, in which Vimpelcom owns 50% plus one share and Crowell the remainder), and two call options over the entire issued share capital of Sky Mobile. Shortly after, Vimpelcom announced that KaR-Tel had signed a management agreement with Sky Mobile, under which KaR-Tel would exclusively assist in the operation and management of Sky’s network and the provision of products and services in Kyrgyzstan. At the end of September 2010 Sky had a mobile subscriber base of 1.766 million.