Armenia’s State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC) met this week to consider an application to acquire the country’s largest operator by revenue VEON Armenia (trading as Beeline) by Team LLC, the new venture set up by brothers Hayk and Aleksandr Yesayan in April of this year after they jumped ship from another altnet, Ucom. SCPEC chairman Gegham Gevorgyan was quoted by Arka News as saying that the commission had carried out ‘a large-scale study of the telecommunications sector in Armenia and abroad with special focus on global trends and merger transactions over the past five years. It also assessed the level of centralisation in the field and studied the technical capabilities of market participants.’ In a closed meeting – given the commercially sensitive nature of the talks – Team LLC moved to reassure SCPEC that there would be ‘no mass layoffs’ as a result of a takeover. On 1 July 2020 meanwhile, Ucom opposed the merger plan, claiming that the actions of the Team LLC management constitute ‘unfair competition’ given their intimate knowledge of Ucom’s business going into the bid. A decision on Team LLC’s application is still pending.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Team LLC, which will trade under the banner Team.Telecom Armenia, confirmed it was forging ahead with its plan to purchase the country’s largest operator, and that the brothers – widely credited with turning Ucom into one of the country’s most successful businesses before they unloaded their shares amid a dispute over the direction of the firm’s future – had applied to the SCPEC for a permit to buy 100% of the shares in VEON. The move reportedly followed VEON’s own filing to SCPEC and the Public Services Regulatory Committee (PSRC), seeking permission to sell its shares to Team LLC.
‘Team is paving a new way in Armenia’s telecom and digital services market and this purchase will help us further enhance our professional team and develop the infrastructure,’ Team CEO Hayk Yesayan was cited as saying, after confirming the reports about the possible VEON deal. ‘Team.Telecom Armenia has already begun designing and building a next generation network,’ he added, noting that the purchase of VEON Armenia could ‘further accelerate’ the introduction of new services and solutions for the Armenian people.