Support The Moscow Times!

Wind Deal Could Close Soon

CAIRO, Egypt — A planned merger between VimpelCom and Wind Telecom to create the world's sixth-biggest mobile network operator could be completed within weeks, even though a key shareholder opposes it, said Khaled Bichara, Wind's chief executive.

"We see no major risks for the transaction going forward," Bichara said. "If anything were to endanger the deal, it would be if one of the regulators says no."

VimpelCom shareholders Thursday approved issuing new shares to complete the $6.5 billion merger, a move that would dilute the holdings of the Russian mobile carrier's current owners, including the lead opponent to the transaction, Telenor.

Telenor, which owns 36 percent of VimpelCom, has filed for arbitration contending it has pre-emptive rights to buy the shares to be issued by VimpelCom for Rome-based Wind.

"If they win, VimpelCom has to issue them some shares, but that does not affect the deal in any way," Bichara said. "The chances of the merger going through are very high. From our point of view, it's mostly mechanical."

The merger, which would give VimpelCom ownership of Wind's 51.7 percent stake in Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding and Italian mobile operator Wind Telecomunicazioni, would also give Wind a chance to be part of a stronger group financially, Bichara said.

It may also assist in resolving a dispute between Orascom Telecom and the Algerian government over ownership of  Orascom's local unit Djezzy, he said.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.