October 22, 2009 / 12:07 PM / 10 years ago

RPT-INTERVIEW-UPDATE 1-Vimpelcom not bidding for Zamtel -CEO

(Repeats to correct format of headline)

* Denies report it bid in consortium with Altimo

* Says entering Africa “a matter of the future strategy”

* Altimo says studying investment opportunities in Africa

(Adds quote, background, Altimo, analyst comment)

By Maria Kiselyova and Kiryl Sukhotski

MOSCOW, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Russian fixed-to-mobile telecoms group Vimpelcom VIP.N denied a report on Thursday that Vimpelcom was involved in a bid to buy Zamtel, Zambia’s fixed-line telephone operator.

“Vimpelcom did not take part in this process. Vimpelcom is not bidding for Zamtel,” Boris Nemsic told Reuters Television.

The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) said it had shortlisted eight prequalified bidders for Zamtel, including a consortium of Vimpelcom VIP.N and its major shareholder, Altimo, the telecoms arm of Russia’s Alfa Group. [ID:nLM670751]

Alfa and the other key shareholder in Vimpelcom, Norwegian telecoms group Telenor (TEL.OL), this month ended one of Russia’s longest corporate wars by merging Vimpelcom with their holdings in Ukrainian operator Kyivstar. [ID:nL5637811]

Vimpelcom has recently expanded into southeast Asia and the management of the merged entity would be tasked with examining further expansion opportunities in Asia as well as Africa, Alfa and Telenor have said.

“I think that opening a new region like Africa is a matter of the future strategy that has to be defined when the new Vimpelcom entity will be established,” Nemsic said on Thursday.

Altimo Senior Vice President Kirill Babayev did not confirm his company was bidding for Zamtel, saying only that Altimo was “studying various investment opportunities in Africa but it is too early to talk about specific projects.”

Referring to a 2008 acquisition by Vimpelcom of a 90 percent stake in Cambodia’s Sotelco, Nadezhda Golubeva, analyst at UniCredit, said: “Altimo practises such things: buys a company itself and then resells it to Vimpelcom.” (Additional reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by John Bowker and David Holmes)

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