Fridman recruits heavyweight investors for USD16bn telecoms splurge

7 Apr 2015

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, who indirectly owns the largest stake in Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom Ltd, is poised to embark on an international acquisition spree via his new London-based LetterOne Technology (L1Technology) unit. According to the Financial Times, the company is aiming to acquire businesses ranging from traditional telecoms groups that need new capital, to internet companies such as those making apps and streaming services that could be used by its global mobile operations.

The company’s advisory board comprises Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, who owns Digicel Group, co-founder Brent Hoberman, Osama Bedier, a former Google payments executive, former Skype executive Russ Shaw and Sir Julian Horn-Smith, one of the founding management team at Vodafone.

TeleGeography notes that Fridman’s indirect 56.2% equity stake (47.9% voting stake) in Vimpelcom is currently held by the similarly-named Luxembourg-based LetterOne Holding, which holds 100% of the shares in Altimo Cooperatief. Altimo functions as the telecoms arm of Fridman’s Alfa Group conglomerate, and up until a shareholder restructuring in 2014 Altimo was registered as the direct majority shareholder in Vimpelcom. Going forward, Fridman’s minor stake in Turkcell of Turkey – held via Alfa Telecoms Turkey – will also be managed by LetterOne.