From Russia with concern - where next for MTS and VimpelCom?

Russia's two largest MNOs took giant steps in October to reposition themselves in Russia and the CIS region. For MTS, a strategic partnership with Vodafone followed a two-phase attempt to place 20 billion roubles in bonds. VimpelCom has also sought to raise funds and has scooped a 49.9 per cent stake in Russia's largest mobile handset retailer. However, despite these concerted attempts to reposition themselves, the effect of the global economic downturn and political exigencies could wreak havoc. For MTS and VimpelCom, the Russian mobile market is fast maturing. Mobile penetration is running about 130% and Ovum forecasts that it will exceed 150% by 2013. Speculation is rife that either of them could even expand beyond their regional Eurasian footprint to target markets in Africa and Asia. Article