Russia round-up: Vimpelcom eyes USD1bn tower windfall; MegaFon expands TransBaltic gateway, extends LTE coverage

1 Nov 2013

Amsterdam-headquartered Vimpelcom expects the sale of around 7,000 cell towers in Russia to commence before the end of the year. TMT Finance reports that the telco is assessing several options – the most likely being a plan to offload all 7,000 towers into a separate entity and then sell a majority stake in the unit, which it values at around USD1 billion. Bankers have suggested that ESN Group and Macquarie-backed Russian Towers are among those expected to bid. Barclays Capital is advising Vimpelcom.

Deutsche Telekom International Carrier Sales & Solutions (ICSS) has announced a partnership with MegaFon to expand the TransBaltic Gateway eastwards towards Asia. MegaFon will provide the connectivity through its fibre-optic network in Russia and its capabilities in Kazakhstan, and will extend the present route to run from Frankfurt to China. The TransBaltic Gateway project was constructed jointly by Deutsche Telekom, MegaFon, and Lattelecom of Latvia in September 2012. The total length of optical fibre is now approximately 8,900km.

According to an unconfirmed report by Telecompaper, MegaFon has extended its Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage to 164 cities and towns across the country. Citing business daily Kommersant, the report says that LTE is available in ten cities with a population of more than one million, as well as in twelve cities with more than 500,000 residents. The operator plans to cover Kostroma, Bryansk, Oryol, Kaluga, Vladimir, Kursk and Ryazan, as well as the Mordovia Republic with LTE by the end of 2013, and expects to increase its 4G user base to around one million by year-end.

Russia, Beeline (Russia), Deutsche Telekom (DT), MegaFon, VEON