UK tycoon denies withdrawal, keen to exploit Russian Virgin tie-up further

18 Apr 2013

Virgin Connect’s chief commercial officer Fred Ledbetter has told East-West Digital News that – contrary to recent press speculation – the UK group is not considering backing out of Russia. In February, CommsUpdate reported that Richard Branson’s Virgin Group had distanced itself from plans to launch as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Russia, with the tycoon also said to be considering calling time on long-running WiMAX provider Trivon, which offers services under the ‘Virgin Connect’ banner.

However, Ledbetter told the news portal that Virgin is very happy with its ‘25% growth over the last 18 months in both its B2B and B2C customer base’, although he stopped short of providing actual subscriber figures, citing ‘the competitive situation’. Moreover, Virgin Connect intends to use funds secured from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ‘to grow both through M&A and organic growth’. Elsewhere, Virgin’s talks with Russia’s mobile operators over a potential MVNO are considered ‘current and active’. TeleGeography notes that both Tele2 Russia and MegaFon were named as potential mobile network operator (MNO) partners as the initial plans gathered pace late last year.

Russia, Virgin Connect (Trivon), Virgin Group