VimpelCom close to Sawiris deal
Russian operator VimpelCom is expected to announce a merger with telecom assets owned by Naguib Sawiris this morning, sources close to the deal say.
The telco’s board met on Sunday to vote on the proposed tie-up, which would create the world’s fifth-largest operator in terms of subscriber numbers by combining assets with Sawiris’ Weather Investments, which includes Italian mobile operator Wind and Egypt’s Orascom, WSJ.com reports.
Egyptian billionaire Sawiris will be granted a 20% stake in the new company, WSJ said, though some reports place his stake at 23%.
The deal would create a telco with over 200 million customers, worth $25 billion (€18.2 billion), Bloomberg reported.
However, the news site said a deal was unlikely before October 6, to allow Sawiris’ business to tackle a tax problem in Algeria.
Vimpelcom has been discussing a merger with Weather Investments since August, after Sawiris’ previous attempts to sell Orascom to South Africa’s MTN collapsed in June.
The Russian carrier’s profits plummeted 52% to €334.7 million during 2Q, as revenues fell and expenses soared.