Unconfirmed reports from Itel.am claim that incumbent national PTO VEON Armenia, formerly ArmenTel and trading under the banner Beeline, is interested in buying rival altnet GNC-ALFA (Rostelecom) and to that end is conducting due diligence concerning a possible deal. The news portal cites an unnamed ‘well-informed source’ as having knowledge of the situation but notes only that any deal would have to be undertaken with the approval of VEON Armenia shareholders. The telco is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amsterdam-based telecoms group VEON Ltd (formerly VimpelCom Ltd).
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Russian telco Rostelecom owns a 75% minus one share stake in GNC-ALFA (Rostelecom) via its wholly owned subsidiary, Teleset Networks. In December 2008 GNC-ALFA was awarded a Public Telecommunications Licence by Armenia’s telecoms watchdog, the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC), to operate public telecommunications networks in the country for ten years, including fixed line services. Then, in February 2012, Russian national telecoms operator Rostelecom announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Teleset Networks, had invested RUB682 million (USD22.5 million) to take a majority stake in GNC-ALFA, at the time the largest independent internet and data provider in Armenia, which was founded in 2007. The acquisition of a controlling stake in GNC-ALFA provided Rostelecom with access to a well-developed infrastructure for broadband and pay-TV services in the Armenian telecommunications market, a sector with significant growth potential.