Vimpelcom sees Weather deal closing in H1

MOSCOW (BestGrowthStock) – Russian telecoms group Vimpelcomsaid it expected to close its $6.6 billion deal for Weather Investments in the first half of 2011, playing down concerns the deal could fail due to a number of hurdles.

“We are working toward fulfilling all necessary conditions … and anticipate the closing in the first half of 2011,” Vimpelcom CEO Alexander Izosimov said in the statement.

Vimpelcom launched a cash and shares bid for telecoms assets owned by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, including Orascom and Italy’s Wind, in October, but the deal has hit a series of obstacles.

The Russian group’s 36 percent shareholder, Norway’s Telenor

last month expressed doubts over the plan it initially backed, after the Algerian government moved toward nationalizing telecoms operator Djezzy — the most lucrative asset of Orascom.

“Given the size and complexity of the transaction, we are satisfied with the progress made thus far. We remain committed and continue to move forward as outlined in our October 4th announcement,” Izosimov said.

Izosimov also said he was confident Vimpelcom would restore its Russian market position after losing market share to rival MegaFon, which in April displaced Vimpelcom from its No.2 position on the Russian mobile market by subscriber numbers.

“The new management team in Russia already started to implement a set of measures to regain momentum in our business development,” Izosimov said adding the measures were focused on network expansion, distribution, and pricing efficiency.

Vimpelcom missed its net income forecast with a 14 percent rise in third-quarter earnings to $495.9 million, against a $525 million forecast, while meeting revenue and core profit estimates.

Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization grew 20 percent to $1.38 billion, on a 24 percent rise in revenue to $2.82 million.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by John Bowker and Jane Merriman)

Vimpelcom sees Weather deal closing in H1