The CEO of VimpelCom, Alexander Izosimov, has made it clear that while he expects the firm’s shareholders to greenlight its planned merger with Wind Telecom next week, the Russian operator will not be pursuing any more large scale acquisitions for some time thereafter.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Izosimov commented: “If the transaction closes, then we’ll most likely be off the international M&A market for a couple of years. We cannot rule out in-market acquisitions because those almost instantly create value and there is no dispute about the synergies.”
The Russian operator’s shareholders are due to vote on whether to release the additional 630 million shares necessary for the completion of its planned US$6.5 billion merger with Wind Telecom. Izosimov is confident in the face of strong opposition to the proposal from Telenor, which holds the second-highest percentage (39%) of shares in VimpelCom. He believes “the transaction will go through, with a high level of probability.”
The VimpelCom CEO debunked rumours that the firm could purchase a majority stake in Telekom Srbija from Serbia’s government, but did state that, following the closing of the deal, VimpelCom/Wind would likely gravitate towards consolidation within crowded markets such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, “where you have six or seven players.”
Telenor has extensive operations in these countries – its Grameenphone operations make it the Bangladeshi market leader, while it holds second place in Pakistan – but these remarks do not seem to have affected its objection to the deal. Izosimov also stated VimpelCom’s intention to increase its operations in Russia, saying that it may buy smaller operators as a means of doing this.