VimpelCom to sell African assets, bid for Pakistan’s Warid: Reuters

VimpelCom has agreed to sell two businesses in Africa and decided to bid for control of Pakistan’s Warid Telecom, according to banking sources cited by Reuters.

The operator, which runs businesses in Russia, Italy and across a number of emerging markets, is reportedly to sell Telecel Global, which operates in Burundi and the Central African Republic, to Neil Telecom, an operator focused on emerging markets and owned by Laurent Foucher, an African investor.

Sources have told Reuters that the deal is subject to regulatory approval.

VimpelCom has agreed to sell two businesses in Africa and decided to bid for control of Pakistan’s Warid Telecom, according to banking sources cited by Reuters.

The operator, which runs businesses in Russia, Italy and across a number of emerging markets, is reportedly to sell Telecel Global, which operates in Burundi and the Central African Republic, to Neil Telecom, an operator focused on emerging markets and owned by Laurent Foucher, an African investor.

Sources have told Reuters that the deal is subject to regulatory approval.

VimpelCom (Amsterdam, Netherlands) took control of the African assets when it acquired a majority stake in Egypt’s Orascom Telecom (Cairo) and Italy’s Wind (Rome) for $6 billion in 2011.

The operator is also said to be keen on selling assets in Zimbabwe, with negotiations over those interests currently under way, according to Reuters.

Pakistan’s Warid has already attracted the interest of the UAE’s Etisalat (Abu Dhabi) and a sale could raise as much as $1 billion for The Abu Dhabi Group, the operator’s current owner.

Etisalat would look to conduct a takeover through PTCL, its Pakistani subsidiary, while VimpelCom would presumably look to merge Warid with Mobilink, another subsidiary of Orascom Telecom and Pakistan’s biggest mobile operator.

Reuters reports that China Mobile (Beijing, China) – which also has operations in Pakistan – may also be interested in bidding for Warid.

Consolidation could relieve some of the financial pressure on Pakistan’s operators, which are struggling amid high levels of competition and difficult economic conditions.