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, 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