VimpelCom’s 2016 EBITDA rises 12.4%; group changing name to VEON

27 Feb 2017

Russian-backed, Amsterdam-headquartered telecoms group VimpelCom has announced that it will rebrand itself to ‘VEON’, subject to shareholder approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on 30 March 2017. Explaining the change, VimpelCom says it ‘is making its transition from a legacy telecoms business into its new future as a technology company, VEON.’ In the latest significant restructuring in the group, VimpelCom and CK Hutchison completed the USD24.7 billion transaction to combine their Italian businesses into converged operator Wind Tre in November 2016, whilst during the same quarter VimpelCom’s 51.9% owned subsidiary Global Telecom Holding completed the previously announced sale of Telecel International to ZARNet in Zimbabwe for USD40 million. Following the doubling of its free float to 20.1% (in Q3 2016) VimpelCom (VEON) is planning a second listing in Q2 2017 on Euronext Amsterdam, it added in its Q4 financials press release.

VimpelCom reported a 2.5% year-on-year increase in Q4 2017 revenues to USD1.112 billion, although the reported sales figure for full-year 2016 dropped by 7.5% to USD8.885 billion. It noted, however, that the full-year decrease was largely due to foreign exchange effects, adding that annual ‘organic’ revenues climbed by 1.0%. Russian (fixed and mobile) revenues accounted for USD4.097 billion (46.1%) of the annual total, having shrunk by 10.6% on a reported basis and by 1.5% in organic (local currency) terms. The second largest division in terms of revenues was Pakistan (Mobilink/Warid) with net sales up 27.7% to USD1.295 billion in FY 2016, followed by Algeria (Djezzy), which posted an 18.3% drop to USD1.040 billion, although in local currency terms this fall was less steep (10.8%).

Consolidated group EBITDA for the full-year hit USD3.232 billion, up 12.4%, with Russia’s EBITDA contribution declining 13.7% to USD1.574 billion, whilst net profit for 2016 attributable to VimpelCom shareholders was USD2.414 billion (compared to net losses of USD655 million in FY 2015), mainly driven by the gain from the Italy joint venture, partially offset by impairments, transformation costs and litigation provision.

Total mobile customers across the group reached 207.5 million excluding Italy at end-2016, up from 196.3 million a year earlier, whilst Italy represented a further 31.3 million Wind Tre mobile accounts (compared to 21.1 million [Wind only] year-on-year). Russia (Beeline) saw total mobile connections decrease from 59.8 million at end-2015 to 58.3 million a year later, whilst the Pakistan mobile total was boosted from 36.2 million to 51.6 million via the Mobilink/Warid merger. Third-largest unit in terms of mobile subscribers, Banglalink, saw its total reduced from 32.3 million to 30.4 million cellular lines in the same period, whilst Kyivstar (Ukraine) achieved growth from 25.4 million to 26.1 million mobile accounts. Djezzy claimed 16.3 million Algerian mobile connections active at 31 December 2016, down from 17.0 million twelve months previously, according to VimpelCom’s report.