9 Oct 2023 16:39

VEON closes deal for sale of Russian Vimpelcom

MOSCOW. Oct 9 (Interfax) - Telecommunications holding VEON left the Russian market, closing a deal for the sale of its domestic asset PJSC Vimpelcom .

The Russian telecom company was sold to a team of Vimpelcom's top managers headed by CEO Alexander Torbakhov, the holding said in a statement.

The transaction does not provide for any buy-back arrangements.

VimpelCom said in a press release that as part of the deal it had bought more than 96% of all VEON bonds in the Russian Federation, including over 99.6% of all holding bonds registered with the NSD.

As a result, the company expects VimpelCom's debt/EBITDA ratio to be no more than 2.9x in the third quarter and no more than 2.6x after the deal is closed.

This "reflects the company's comfortable leverage, allowing it to continue the successful implementation of its capital investment program."

Dividend payments will be considered depending on financial and operating targets being achieved going forward, the press service told Interfax.

The strategy will not change with the new shareholders. "The key element is still customer centricity," VimpelCom said.

It was from the Russian business that the group grew more than 10 years ago, originally from the company of the same name, VimpelCom, and later, in 2017, to be renamed VEON. VimpelCom generated more than 50% of VEON's revenue.

VEON now has a presence in six countries: Ukraine, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

VEON's largest shareholder is LetterOne, part of Alfa Group of Mikhail Fridman and partners, with 47.9%. The company's free float on the Nasdaq is 43.8%, and another 8.3% is under the management of a Dutch stichting trust. VEON trades on Nasdaq and Euronext and is registered in the Netherlands.