Hong Kong-based telecoms group CK Hutchison is to acquire 100% ownership of Italian telco Wind Tre, paying VEON (formerly VimpelCom) EUR2.45 billion (USD2.87 billion) in cash for its 50% stake. VEON says it expects to book a net gain of approximately EUR1.10 billion from the transaction and intends to use the proceeds to pay down debt and reduce its leverage ratio. The deal marks VEON’s exit from western Europe, leaving it with eleven operations in eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
A statement from CK Hutchison read: ‘This is a key step in consolidating an important part of CK Hutchison’s telecom assets, which are being built into a globally relevant platform for the delivery of next generation products and services.’ Commenting on the transaction, Canning Fok, Group Co-Managing Director of CK Hutchison, said: ‘We are delighted to become sole owners of Wind Tre, which gives us the strongest possible platform to drive increased and recurring value for our shareholders.’
Completion of the deal remains subject to regulatory approval in the EU and Italy, with the firms saying it is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of 2018. Wind Tre had 26.4 million active customers at the end of March 2018, putting it in second place in the Italian mobile market.