MOSCOW — International telecoms firm Vimpelcom has sold two African businesses, in Central African Republic (CAR) and Burundi, for $65 million to Econet Wireless Global, it said yesterday, part of a strategic review of its assets worldwide.
Last year, Vimpelcom agreed to sell the two businesses to another company — Neil Telecom, an emerging market-focused telecoms venture run by African investor Laurent Fouchers, banking sources had previously said.
But the agreement unravelled because the purchaser failed to close the deal, Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom said, which is majority-owned by Russia’s Alfa Group and Norway’s Telenor.
Instead, Vimpelcom’s 51,9% owned subsidiary Global Telecom Holding has sold its entire 100% stake in Telecel Globe Limited, which owns U-COM in Burundi and Telecel CAR, to Econet Wireless Global Limited, Vimpelcom said in a statement.
South Africa-based Econet Wireless Group has operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America and the East Asia Pacific Rim. Listed unit Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone operator.
Vimpelcom, saddled with more than $20 billion of debt, last month also sold its operations in Canada, having previously divested assets in Cambodia and Vietnam.
“We have previously outlined our value agenda within which our operations are reviewed to assess their future value to the group. The decision to sell our operations in CAR and Burundi is a result of this process,” said Andrew Davies, chief financial officer of Vimpelcom.
Vimpelcom’s biggest assets are Russia’s third-biggest phone operator, Vimpelcom and Italy’s third-biggest mobile network operator, Wind. It also has operations in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics as well as Algeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe.