Russian telco Vimpelcom and Wind Telecom (formerly Weather Investments), the telecoms holding company owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, have announced the closing of the USD6.5 billion transaction that combines the two entities to create a new global telecoms group. As a result of the transaction, Vimpelcom now owns – through Wind Telecom – 51.7% of Orascom Telecom and 100% of Wind Telecomunicazioni (Wind Italy). The combination of Vimpelcom and Wind Telecom creates the world’s sixth largest mobile telecoms provider in terms of subscribers, with operations in 20 countries. Vimpelcom claims that the enlarged company’s total mobile subscriber base reached 181 million as at 31 December 2010.
Going forward Vimpelcom will divide its telecoms operations into five key business units, as follows: Russia; Ukraine; CIS (including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan); Europe & North America (Italy and Canada [Orascom’s indirectly controlled unit Wind Mobile]) and Africa & Asia (Algeria, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Central African Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Pakistan). Wind Telecom assets set to be demerged principally comprise Orascom Telecom’s investments in Egypt and North Korea and Wind Italy’s Wind International Services subsidiary. The demergers are expected to take place shortly after the closing of the transaction. Vimpelcom has confirmed that it will consolidate Wind Telecom’s financial results from 15 April 2011.
Alexander Izosimov, CEO of Vimpelcom, commented: ‘The closing of this large and complex transaction opens the door for new and exciting growth opportunities, positioning the company to capitalise on strong growth in emerging markets, industry consolidation, and the rapid development of mobile data. Vimpelcom has already commenced integration initiatives and we are focused on realising synergies, particularly in the area of procurement, and capitalising on the company’s strengthened leadership, scale and market expertise. Furthermore, we look forward to delivering on our commitment to strengthening our financial position through rapid debt paydown and to driving sustained growth in our business.’