BARCELONA, Feb. 13 /CNW/ -
- The following article was published by Dow Jones Newswires on
12 February 2008. Please credit Dow Jones Newswires if using any part
of this article. (C) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. all rights
- The following story is being retransmitted with permission by
Dow Jones, for Altimo
Russian investment company Altimo won't stand in the way if mobile
operator Megafon decides to launch an initial public offering in 2009, said
Altimo Chief Executive Alexey Reznikovich.
"An IPO would help make the company more transparent, determine fair
value and provide liquidity for shareholders," said Reznikovich in a recent
interview with Dow Jones Newswires. Megafon is Russia's third-largest mobile
operator by customers.
Last year, Altimo - Alfa Group's telecommunications investment business -
resolved a four-year legal feud with Bermuda-based investment fund IPOC over
which of the two companies owned a 25% stake in Megafon. Altimo won.
Altimo's backing of a potential stock flotation removes one of the last
hurdles for Megafon's listing, a move that is likely to happen in 2009.
Sweden's TeliaSonera ASA (TLSN.SK) is one of the other main shareholders in
Earlier this week, Megafon reported a 47% rise in 2007 revenues to
US$5.5 billion, as it pushed its customer numbers past 36 million. An IPO of
Megafon could see Altimo's asset base grow further.
Altimo's investment in fast-growing markets, such as Russia and the
Ukraine, has helped boost the investment vehicle's asset value to
US$30 billion from US$5 billion in the last six years, said Reznikovich.
The company is now eyeing further stakes in operators based in
fast-growing markets, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Burma.
However, in Vietnam, Altimo plans to expand through OAO Vimpel
Communications (VIP), Russia's second-largest mobile and fixed-line telephony
operator, which it co-owns with Telenor ASA (TEL.OS).
"At the moment Vimpelcom is having a major effort in Vietnam and has
signed an agreement with the ministry of security," he said. But there is
still uncertainty over how the Vietnamese government will liberalize its
telecommunications market, he said.
"However, Indonesia is a higher priority country for us," said
Reznikovich. "It's a large country with more than 250 million people and
mobile phone penetration is low."
In the past Altimo has also floated the idea of swapping its disparate
assets in countries such as Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey "for a smaller
stake in a larger pie" of a Western telecommunications operator.
However, current market conditions, as well as potential political and
media opposition in the West regarding a partnership with the most likely
candidates, Scandinavia's Telenor or TeliaSonera, are likely to prevent any
such moves in the near term, said Reznikovich.
"If we are to combine our assets with someone else it needs to be a
company with reasonable growth," said Reznikovich. "We don't want to exchange
our growth for their stagnation."
Alfa, Altimo's parent company, is controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail
Fridman. Altimo itself boasts an advisory board including former U.K. foreign
secretary Douglas Hurd, former Telefon AB LM Ericsson (ERIC) chief executive
Kurt Hellstrom and former Vodafone Group PLC (VOD) deputy chief executive
Altimo executives, who are at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress this
week, will be providing partners with an update of their Altimo mobile
development index, which monitors the relative attractiveness of mobile phone
markets from an investor's point of view.
Company Web site: http://www.altimo.org
For further information:
For further information: Media contact: Alexei Orlov, Altimo,
+7-495-981-4488 ext 253; mob: +7-903-549-9989