Vimpelcom on verge of acquiring Italian and Greek operators

The giant Russian operator Vimpelcom is reported to be close to finalising a deal to acquire the mobile service provider Wind which has operations in Italy and Greece.

Despite denials, the Russian company is said to be locked in talks to purchase Weather Investments, which is owned by the Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, who has controlling ownerships of the mobile phone operator Wind Telecomunicazioni in Italy and one in Greece called Wind Hellas.

The Egyptian tycoon's holding company Weather Investments also owns over 50 per cent of Egyptian-based mobile group Orascom Telecom. However, the Cairo stock exchange considers Orascom a separate company from Weather Investments.

Italian newspaper reports state that Sawiris is looking at selling Weather Investments to Vimpelcom with the help of Lazard, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup in a deal rumoured to be worth around US$6.5 billion.

Vimpelcom, jointly owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group and Norway's Telenor, is considered to have the financial clout to push through this deal given it posted a US$412 million profit in the first quarter.

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