Dutch-based operator has confirmed that it’s seeking a buyer for its Russian business
The multinational operator, headquartered in Amsterdam, released a statement yesterday, confirming that it is initiating a competitive sales process for its Russian business, with its management “currently exploring options in an effort to ensure that an optimal outcome is achieved for all relevant stakeholders, including Veon, its Russian operations, its shareholders, its creditors, its customers and its employees working both in and outside of Russia.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has placed VEON in a particularly difficult position, as it operates in both countries. The international response to the war, particularly the implementation of economic and individual sanctions by the US and its allies against Russia, has made doing business in the country particularly fraught for western based companies. Nokia and Ericsson have both left the Russian market, and with Mikhail Fridman, who set up the LetterOne investment firm which owns nearly half of VEON’s shares, being targeted by sanctions, VEON’s move is not surprising.
While Russia is by far VEON’s biggest market, accounting for around 50% of its revenues, the war and the sanctions imposed on Russia in response have made the company’s position within Russia increasingly untenable. While it seems highly unlikely that a western company will look to buy, and there is indeed no guarantee that a buyer will be found, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone emerges as the owner after the sales process.