Wed, Sep. 23, 5:54 PM
- Italy's government won't stand in the way of the merger between VimpelCom's (NASDAQ:VIP) Wind Telecomunicazioni and Hutchison's (OTCPK:HUWHY) Three Italia, it said in agreeing not to exercise a veto right.
- It is asking the companies for more information about the combination and its plans as regards national security and service continuity, however.
- The €21.8B deal still requires regulatory approvals -- including from a newly tough regime led by Europe's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. The merger has more likelihood of success, with three roughly equal players remaining in the Italian market, than the recent aborted tie-up in Denmark between Telenor and TeliaSonera.
- Previously: VimpelCom up 3.8% as it forges $24B Italy merger with Hutchison (Aug. 06 2015)
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.
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.
Thu, Aug. 6, 9:47 AM
- VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) is up 3.8% after the company finally came to agreement to merge its Italy unit, Wind Telecomunicazioni, with Hutchison's (OTCPK:HUWHY) Three Italia, in a €21.8B deal (about $24B), creating a telecom carrier that would surpass Telecom Italia (TI -1.9%) as Italy's leader in total customers, with more than 31M.
- The talks -- in progress for well over a year -- result in a 50/50 venture where Wind's CEO Maximo Ibarra will keep his role while Three's COO Dina Ravera will oversee integration. Each firm will nominate three board members to a six-member board.
- The deal values Wind at €13.9B and Three at €7.9B. An IPO for the JV was reported to be considered earlier, though VimpelCom CEO Jean-Yves Charlier says they haven't discussed one.
- The transaction requires antitrust approval from Europe, but Italy is late to the consolidation game, as countries like Germany, Ireland and Austria had previously gone from four carriers to three.
- The companies say the deal will deliver cost savings of more than €5B, mainly from combining the mobile networks.
- VimpelCom also posted Q2 results where its Q2 revenues narrowly beat expectations despite a 26% drop.
Thu, Aug. 6, 5:38 AM
Wed, Jul. 29, 5:44 PM
- VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) finished a steady climb today to close up 15.8%, again on (new) chatter that it might be close to merging its Italian operation, Wind Telecomunicazioni, with Hutchison's (OTCPK:HUWHY) Three Italia to create the country's largest mobile company.
- Talks between the two have been going on for well over a year and they have been reported to be close to a deal several times, though Bloomberg is reporting that a deal could be announced in the coming week, which could include a capital increase of €2B.
- Two months ago, talk centered on an equal venture for the two companies and an IPO for the combination, which would have more than 30M customers. Wind and Three posted about €2B in combined EBITDA for 2014, which could mean a deal worth $18B at standard multiples.
- Hong Kong-based Hutchison has been trying to pursue European telecom consolidation, and the Italy talks mark a critical foothold in the continent if it's to be part of that.
- Previously: VimpelCom, Hutchison consider IPO for Italy unit merger (May. 27 2015)
- Previously: VimpelCom, Hutchison Italy merger talk focuses on even split (May. 13 2015)
- Previously: Bloomberg: VimpelCom, Hutchison agree on Italy merger management (May. 12 2015)
- Previously: Italy deal key to Hutchison Whampoa's European telecom hopes (Mar. 13 2015)
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, Jul. 7, 5:36 PM
Mon, Jul. 6, 12:17 PM
- VimpelCom's (VIP -3.9%) Zimbabwean division is imposing pay cuts and work limitations in order to slash employee costs by 25%.
- Telecel Zimbabwe, the country's No. 2 provider, is giving employees a choice among less or deferred pay, or fewer workdays, part of "various options we are looking at to make the business viable," says CEO Angeline Vere.
- The company has 2.5M active subscribers.
Wed, Jul. 1, 3:41 PM
- VimpelCom (VIP +2%) has named Alexander Matuschka -- chief transformation officer at Nokia Networks -- as its new group chief performance officer.
- The hire comes amid a push to increase operating efficiency at the Russian telecom, and reduce cost along the way.
- Earlier this week, the Justice Dept. began its own probe of VimpelCom (following in the footsteps of European investigations) over alleged bribes to access Uzbekistan's phone market.
- 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.
Mon, Jun. 15, 9:59 AM
- VimpelCom (VIP -1%) says Ghada Gebara has been chosen as CEO of the Optimum Telecom Algeria unit, also known as Djezzy.
- A French national, Gebara was previously CEO of Iraq's Korek Telecom as well as CEO of Digicel in Haiti.
- VimpelCom completed a sale of its Algerian stake to the government for $2.6B earlier this year, but retains operational control of the entity.
Wed, May 27, 9:08 AM
- VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) and Hutchison Whampoa (OTCPK:HUWHY) -- long in talks to merge their Italy wireless units -- are considering an IPO for the combination, Bloomberg reports.
- A combination of VimpelCom's Wind Telecomunicazioni and Hutchison's Three Italia would have the largest customer base in Italy and become the chief challenger to Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI).
- The two posted about €2B in combined EBITDA for 2014, and at standard 8x multiples, the combination could be valued up to $18B, though Wind is carrying debt of close to €10B.
- They've been in merger discussions for more than a year, though coming to terms on an equal marriage could come this summer before perhaps a year of seeking regulator OKs.
Fri, May 15, 2:52 PM
- VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) is among the highest-gaining telecoms of the day, up 5.1%, after a couple of analysts raised price targets following news of progress on VIP's (slow) Italy merger talks.
- RBC Capital raised its price target on shares to $6.50, and maintains a rating of Outperform.
- Meanwhile, Renaissance Capital today raised the price target to $5.10 (from $4.40) while downgrading the stock to Sell.
- For well over a year, VimpelCom has been talking with Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa (OTCPK:HUWHY) about merging its Wind Telecomunicazioni with Hutchison's Three Italia (Nos. 3 and 4 in the Italy market) to take on market leader Telecom Italia. On Wednesday, discussions centered on an even split in the merger.
- Shares are trading currently at $6.35.
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