VEON walks away from talks to sell Armenian arm to Ucom

7 May 2020

Amsterdam-based VEON has announced its decision to withdraw from talks over the possible sale of its Armenian unit VEON Armenia (Beeline) to rival altnet Ucom, Arka News reports. In a statement yesterday (6 May), VEON’s Corporate Communications Director Kieran Toohey confirmed: ‘VEON Ltd, a leading global provider of communications and Internet services, has withdrawn from negotiations with Ucom regarding a possible transaction involving its operating company in Armenia, which was previously disclosed on 15 January 2020’. No reasons have been given for the decision.

Armenian fixed line, broadband and mobile operator Ucom applied to the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) on 30 December 2019 outlining its proposal to acquire larger rival VEON Armenia. With the owner having confirmed in mid-January that talks were underway, antitrust regulator the State Commission for Protection of Economic Competition of the Republic of Armenia (SCPEC) began the process of considering Ucom’s application in February, but disputes arose between Ucom shareholders and in April its management team, including co-founders Hayk and Aleksandr Yesayan, and several hundred employees resigned after disagreements over a plan to appoint Beeline CEO Andrey Pyatakhin at the helm of Ucom once the two companies merged. The Yesayan brothers, who along with a small management team had started Ucom back in 2009, announced plans to create a new company dubbed ‘Unet’, and in the meantime, Ucom’s other principal shareholders became embroiled in scandal and accused the government of ‘trying to illegally alienate Ucom’ – an accusation the Prime Minister’s spokesman Mane Gevorgyan later denied.

Armenia, Team Telecom Armenia (formerly Beeline), Ucom, VEON