Monday, July 21, 2008

Vimpelcom buys Cambodia's Sotelco for $28 million

Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:04am EDT

(Adds details, quotes, background)

MOSCOW, July 21 (Reuters) - Vimpelcom (VIP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Russia's number two mobile phone operator, has bought a 90 percent stake in Cambodia's Sotelco from its largest shareholder, Altimo, in a second step in its Asian expansion, it said on Monday.

"Cambodian market entry is an important part of Vimpelcom's international expansion strategy particularly within (the company's) South-East Asian cluster of operations started by our entry to the Vietnamese mobile market," Vimpelcom's Chief Executive Officer Alexander Izosimov said in a statement. "We foresee impressive growth potential within the South-East Asian region, and cluster synergies," he said.

Vimpelcom, which this month finalised its mobile venture in Vietnam, said in a statement on Monday the transaction was made through the purchase of 90 percent of Sotelco's parent company, Atlas Trade Limited, for $28 million.

"We expect that it will take us nine months to create and launch a network," Vimpelcom's Vice President for business outside Russia, Nikolai Pryanishnikov, told a conference call.

Pryanishnikov said Vimpelcom would invest around $200 million in the network within the first three to four years after its commercial launch and aimed for roughly 20 percent market share, or around 2 million subscribers.

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