VimpelCom Chief says he would focus on local purchases after buying wind

VimpelCom Ltd. (VIP), Russia’s third- largest mobile-phone company, plans to focus on consolidation within existing markets if it succeeds in merging with Wind Telecom SpA.

“If the transaction closes, then we’ll most likely be off the international M&A market for a couple of years,” Chief Executive Officer Alexander Izosimov said in a telephone interview. “We cannot rule out in-market acquisitions because those almost instantly create value and there is no dispute about the synergies.”

VimpelCom shareholders will vote March 17 on the issue of 630 million shares needed to complete the combination with Wind Telecom in a deal valued at about $6.5 billion. The company’s plan to acquire assets from Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, including a company in Italy, is opposed by Telenor ASA (TEL), which holds more than 39 percent of Amsterdam-based VimpelCom.

The CEO expects to prevail in the shareholder vote. “The transaction will go through, with a high level of probability,” Izosimov said. An enlarged VimpelCom would be present in as many as 19 countries with an addressable population of 838 million people after the merger, according to company presentations.

The company would be interested in assets such as OAO NTK, a Vladivostok-based operator currently controlled by Korea Telecom Corp., Motiv in the Urals, and OAO Smarts in the Volga area to expand its Russian base, according to the CEO.

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