VimpelCom buys into Laos

Second-placed Russian carrier VimpelCom said Thursday that it has struck a deal to acquire a 78 per cent stake in Laotian mobile operator Millicom Lao for around $66m.

VimpelCom will purchase the controlling stake from international operator Millicom, which is based in the Netherlands. The remaining 22 per cent of Millicom Lao is owned by the local government.

Laos is a country with just 27 per cent mobile penetration and a telecoms landscape consisting of four operators. Millicom, which operates under the brand Tigo, is a close third, trailing ETL’s 284,000 subscribers at end-June, 2009 with 280,000.

The market is led by incumbent Lao Telecom, which boats over one million subscribers, while LAT brings up the rear of the pack with just 82,000 users.

Read’s profile of Boris Nemsic in the 40 industry leaders to watch feature

Boris Nemsic, recently installed CEO of VimpelCom, said, “VimpelCom’s entry into Laos is the next logical step in our international expansion strategy. Laos provides a great complement to our existing operations in Vietnam and Cambodia and fits perfectly into our strategy of building a solid Southeast Asian cluster. The growth potential in Laos is attractive, with a population of 6.5 million people.”

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