Russian telecom giant VimpelCom is selling off two major businesses in Africa to raise roughly $100 million. The group has also expressed its interest in bidding for the Pakistani operator Warid Telecom.
VimpelCom obtained its operations in Burundi and Central African Republic when it acquired Orascom in 2011. The two units are included as part of Telecel Global, which VimpelCom will sell to Neil Telecom – a venture geared towards emerging market communications.
The Burundi operation is the number one player in the country with 1.25 million subscribers, a roughly 50% share of the market. The unit in the Central African Republic is the country’s number two with 434,000 subscribers.
In an effort to reduce its debt, VimpelCom is reportedly looking towards larger markets. The Russian firm is believed to consider at least five former Orascom units to be expendable; this is supported by claims that the Russian group will sell another asset in Zimbabwe to an unnamed buyer.
Separately, VimpelCom is reportedly considering a bid for Pakistani provider Warid Telecom, which could be a strategic move to prevent rival Etisalat from gaining a stronger foothold in the market. VimpelCom already owns the largest Pakistani operator via Orascom’s Mobilink, and would seize a 39% market share if it acquired Warid. It will face competition from Etisalat’s affiliate, third place Pakistan Telecommunications (PTCL).