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VimpelCom completes acquisition of Wind Telecom

Russian telco VimpelCom gains foothold in MEA telecoms sector after acquiring the telecom assets of Naguib Sawiris.

Naguib Sawiris, chairman, Wind Telecom, said both companies shared a "common global vision".
Naguib Sawiris, chairman, Wind Telecom, said both companies shared a "common global vision".

Russian telco VimpelCom has completed its $6.6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, creating the world's sixth largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers.

VimpelCom now owns, through Wind Telecom, 51.7% of Egypt's Orascom Telecom and 100% of Wind Italy. 

The combined company has operations in 20 countries and a total subscriber base of some 181 million people across Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Italy.

As part of the deal, VimpelCom paid some $1.5 billion to Wind Telecom, which will receive a 20% stake in VimpelCom, giving the combined deal a value of some $6.6 billion, excluding debt.

Alexander Izosimov, CEO, VimpelCom, described the deal as a "large and complex transaction" that would position the company to capitalize on strong growth in emerging markets, industry consolidation, and mobile data.

VimpelCom has already started to integrate the two operations and is keen to make savings in areas including procurement, while also strengthening its finances through "rapid debt paydown", Izosimov added.

Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Wind Telecom, added: "We share a common global vision with our new partners at VimpelCom.  The prospects for our new, enlarged and diversified telecoms platform are exciting and a reflection of our high quality assets across each of the geographies where we operate."

VimpelCom intends to discuss a possible resolution to an ongoing dispute with the Algerian government regarding the ownership of Orascom Telecom Algeria, which is also known as Djezzy. The Algerian government said last year that it intended to take ownership of Djezzy, which is one of the most profitable operations in Oracom Telecom's portfolio.

VimpelCom also announced some changes to its management team, including the appointment of Khaled Bichara, former group CEO of Wind Telecom, to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer.

VimpeCcom said there will be five main business units in the newly merged company, comprising Europe and North America, Russia, Ukraine, CIS, and Africa and Asia.

VimpelCom originally signed a deal to acquire Wind Telecom, which is owned by Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris, back in October 2010.