Wed, Nov. 25, 6:55 PM
- While VimpelCom (VIP +6.8%) got a boost today on news that it may be close to settling with the U.S. in an Uzbekistan corruption probe, TeliaSonera (OTCPK:TLSNY +2.2%) may be facing a bigger headache as the U.S. looks to extend the probe into other markets, according to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.
- Danske Bank analysts think the company could now be facing compensation claims of 15B kronor ($1.72B), triple what they had expected before.
- The probe is reportedly widening to TeliaSonera's activities in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and even Nepal.
- Other companies besides VimpelCom and TeliaSonera -- Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT) and Telenor (OTCPK:TELNY) -- are linked to dealings with Takilant, the company tied to Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.
Wed, Nov. 25, 6:32 PM
- VimpelCom (VIP +6.8%) is looking at stable debt even with ongoing dollar risks, Fitch says, giving the Russia-focused telecom a BB+ Issuer Default Rating with stable outlook.
- While VimpelCom's debt is moderate and declining, 71% is in U.S. currency, which may increase costs for Amsterdam-based VimpelCom as the U.S. raises rates.
- VimpelCom's interests in Italy's Wind are "highly leveraged but ring-fenced," the firm says.
- Fitch expects VimpelCom to stay a strong mobile player in Russia despite competition from Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT), Millicom (OTCPK:MIICF) and Megafon (OTC:MFOYY): "Although its market share has been on a steady decline over the three years to 2014, a catch-up in capex should allow it to compete on a more level playing field with its larger peers."
- Shares finished strong today after a report the company may be near a settlement with U.S. authorities related to an Uzbekistan corruption probe.
- Previously: VimpelCom up 2.4% on report it's near $775M U.S. settlement (Nov. 25 2015)
Tue, Nov. 17, 9:38 AM
- Leading Russian telecom Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT) is up 4.6% after Q3 revenue beat expectations by about 3% and the company raised expectations for future growth.
- Overall Group revenue rose 7.4% to 115B rubles; revenue in Russia was up 4.7% to 103.9B rubles. Mobile service was up 1% to 78B rubles; data traffic up 20.2% to RUB 20.6B, and handset sales up 58.8% to RUB 12.6B.
- Free cash flow for the nine months was RUB 29.2B; capex was RUB 73.1B. The company says it isn't making a provision for the probes by the SEC and U.S. DOJ regarding its business in Uzbekistan.
- It's raised guidance for overall group revenue and Russia revenue to more than 4% growth, and reiterated Group OIBDA margin guidance for more than 40%.
- Press Release
Tue, Nov. 17, 7:08 AM
Fri, Oct. 16, 11:58 AM
- With tensions between Russia and Ukraine at a boil, Russia's leading wireless carrier Mobile TeleSystems (MBT -1%) has a new deal with longtime partner Vodafone (VOD +0.7%) to lease its brand for Ukrainian operations.
- For MTS, that means leaving behind a brand valued at $12B, but considering the countries' relationship, "the value of Vodafone brand is much higher," says MTS Ukraine's Oleg Prozhyvalsky.
- Ukraine represented about 8% of MTS revenue last year. Meanwhile, Ukrainian lawmakers have threatened to annul licenses for companies from countries "that carry out aggression against Ukraine or create pre-conditions for military conflict."
- “Perception of a Russian brand in Ukraine has probably worsened amid political tensions,” said UralSib Capital analyst Konstantin Belov. “Still, rebranding requires costs and it remains to be seen how this will pay back.”
- Press release
Wed, Oct. 14, 10:39 AM
- Moody's is raising its outlook for Europe's telecoms to stable as it predicts a return to revenue growth overall, amid growing consumer demand and spending capacity, and price increases.
- The firm expects revenues overall to grow by 1-2% over the next 12-18 months.
- "Increasing demand for broadband, improved consumer spending capacity and a change in focus from price competition to service quality leading to price increases will underpin European telecommunications service providers' return to revenue growth in 2016," says Moody's analyst Carlos Winzer.
- He pointed to Telefonica (TEF -1.6%), whose ARPU was up sequentially to €71.80/month from €68.80/month and who's rolling out premium packages at premium prices. Moody's expects positive ARPU for Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) amid similar premium pricing.
- Despite a stable outlook on the Africa, Middle East and Turkish markets, slowing GDP in some countries (including Nigeria and those on the Arabian peninsula) could press revenue growth.
- The outlook on Russia's big three, however -- Mobile TeleSystems (MBT +2.1%), MegaFon (OTC:MFOYY) and VimpelCom (VIP +0.8%) -- stays negative amid the Russian economic crisis.
Wed, Sep. 23, 5:04 PM
- Russia is set to auction 1800-MHz wireless airwaves next week, and has processed applications for the country's four main mobile operators to participate.
- Mobile TeleSystems (MBT -2.1%), VimpelCom (VIP -1.5%), Megafon (OTC:MFOYY) and Tele2 (OTCPK:TLTZY) are certified to take part in the electronic auction. Russia is selling spectrum in nine regions.
- While the band was previously set aside for voice communication, there are no restrictions on usage of airwaves won in the auction, and the country's Roscomnadzor regulator expects winners will put LTE to work in the band.
Tue, Sep. 1, 1:36 PM
- Subscribers to Russia's mobile telecoms services rose in Q2, rebounding from a decline in the first quarter.
- Totals came to 242.33M mobile subscriptions, up from 238.35M the quarter before. Market penetration came to 169.6%, up sequentially from 166.8%, as Russia's population is about 146.3M.
- Mobile TeleSystems (MBT -4.3%) led Russian subscriber totals, with 75.39M, up from 74.5M. Megafon (OTC:MFOYY) came in with 71.4M, up from 69.52M; VimpelCom (VIP -3%) logged 57.17M compared to Q1's 55.71M; and Tele2 Russia (OTCPK:TLTZY) with 34.7M subscribers shrank from Q1's 34.9M.
- Breakdown of market share in Russia: MTS, 31%; Megafon, 29%; VimpelCom, 24%; Tele2 Russia, 14%.
- Counting subscribers across multiple countries, VimpelCom (with an additional footprint in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan) passes MTS in overall subscribers, with 109.27M to Mobile TeleSystems' 105.33M and Megafon's 73.85M.
Fri, Aug. 28, 9:43 AM
- Mobile TeleSystems (MBT +0.5%), Russia's biggest mobile operator, says it's partnering with Google to help grow mobile Internet use there.
- The provider will get revenue sharing from Google search ads in return for sharing costs of promotion, an MTS spokesman said.
- The company will feature Google voice search in ads and retail stores, and an app will be pre-installed on the home screens of Google's Android-based phone sold in MTS stores.
Tue, Aug. 18, 11:05 AM
- After declining a bit in early trading, Russian carrier Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT) has reclaimed the flat line after Q2 revenues fell short and profit dropped by about 22% Y/Y.
- Higher overall expenses crimped results, in particular a 30% rise in the cost of handsets even as the company slashed its own prices to attract consumers. Adjusted OIBDA fell to RUB 42.7B and OIBDA margin was 41.6%.
- Mobile service revenue in Russia rose 2.8% to RUB 72.7B; data traffic revenue in Russia was up 23.4%, to RUB 18.9B. Handset sales were up 26.7%, to RUB 7.6B.
- The company's guiding to full-year capex of RUB 92B, for planned investments in Ukraine 3G.
- Press Release
Tue, Aug. 18, 8:05 AM
Thu, Aug. 13, 6:28 PM
- U.S. prosecutors are pursuing the seizure of $1B in assets tied to a criminal corruption probe of Uzbekistan, to which they've linked foreign telecoms VimpelCom (VIP -1.9%), Mobile TeleSystems (MBT -2.5%) and TeliaSonera (OTCPK:TLSNY +1.4%).
- Authorities think the firms (based in the Netherlands, Russia and Sweden respectively) sent hundreds of millions of dollars to business controlled by Gulnara Karimova, daughter to Uzbek President Islam Karimov, to secure wireless spectrum there.
- The U.S. is asking European banks to assist in grabbing the funds, part of a recently more aggressive push against foreign corruption by the U.S. -- which has jurisdiction with regard to VimpelCom and MTS since they trade on U.S. exchanges.
- TeliaSonera delisted about 10 years ago, but could be involved if its deals used the U.S. financial system. Its CEO Lars Nyberg resigned in 2013 amid criticism of the company's Uzbekistan investment.
- Earlier this year in the same probe, the U.S. pursued seizing some $300M in accounts in Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Authorities think Gulnara Karimova is the beneficial owner of the $1B they're seeking.
Fri, Jul. 17, 2:13 PM
Thu, Jul. 9, 11:27 AM
- Russian telecom VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) is leading the Nasdaq 100 gainers, +5.8% and largely making up heavy losses yesterday.
- While most analysts advocate Hold ratings on the shares, consensus price target of $5.56 implies 14% upside from here.
- The stock had managed to swim against peers in pulling off a Tuesday gain before sinking in the postmarket that day.
- Also rebounding strong today: competitor Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT), up 4.4%.
- Previously: VimpelCom among top postmarket decliners, down 3.7% (Jul. 07 2015)
- Previously: VimpelCom Zimbabwe unit cutting employee costs by 25% (Jul. 06 2015)
Tue, Jul. 7, 6:16 PM
- VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) is among top postmarket decliners, off 3.7% after hours on a big block that came through in the past hour.
- Shares gained 1.2% in the regular session today, bucking regional industry peers including Mobile TeleSystems (MBT -2.5%) and MiMES Rostelekom (OTCQX:ROSYY -3.5%).
- The Amsterdam-based company noted today that it's joined Nederland ICT, a trade organization for more than 550 info-tech, telecom and Internet companies in the Netherlands. The move should foster better relationships with in-country peers and help develop home-grown talent for the sectors.
- Previously: U.S. piles in to bribery probe of Russian phone firms (Jun. 30 2015)
Tue, Jun. 30, 10:01 AM
- VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) is flat, and Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE:MBT) up 1.2%, as the two Russian phone companies end up in U.S. crosshairs over a bribery conspiracy investigation.
- The U.S. Justice Dept. is joining an existing list of European countries in looking to seize $300M held by a relative of Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov -- the proceeds of what it says were funneled bribes for access to the Uzbek telecom market.
- The U.S. says VimpelCom and MTS used shell companies and phony consulting contracts to route money. VimpelCom said last year that its Dutch headquarters had been raided by prosecutors and that the SEC had sought documents then.
Mobile Telesystems PJSC provides telecommunications services including voice and data transmission, internet access, pay TV, various value added services through wireless and fixed lines and sells equipment and accessories.
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