Vimpelcom completes Wind Telecom merger

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Russian telecoms company Vimpelcom has completed its acquisition of Wind Telecom, making it the world's sixth largest mobile operator and majority owner of Orascom and Wind Italy.

The $6.5 billion cash and share deal creates the world's sixth largest mobile telecom group with a subscriber base of 181 million, a statement said Friday.

The deal will help the company "capitalise on strong growth in emerging markets, industry consolidation and the rapid development of mobile data," said Vimpelcom CEO Alexander Izosimov while chairman Joe Lunder called it a "landmark deal."

The acquisition includes 100 percent of Italy's Wind Telecom as well as a 51.7 percent stake in Orascom Telecom owned by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris.

Vimpelcom said in the statement that it is interested in exploring a resolution with the Algerian government that would allow it to keep Orascom's Algerian operator Djeezy, the country's main mobile provider and which is considered one of Orascom's best assets.

Vimpelcom last year said it would consider selling Djeezy to the Algerian government for eight billion dollars after the government announced that it would like to nationalise the firm over a tax dispute.

Vimpelcom stakeholder Telenor opposed the deal last year but other shareholders voted in favor of the merger. Telenor of Norway started arbitration proceedings against Vimpelcom which are still ongoing, the statement noted.

© 2011 AFP

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