By Georgina Prodhan
BARCELONA, Spain Nov 17 Russian mobile
telecoms group Vimpelcom VIP.N has no plans for more
international mergers following its controversial $6 billion
acquisition of Wind Italy in April, Chief Executive Jo Lunder
told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
"We are not building an empire. We are not trying to fill a
map with countries. We are here to create value," Lunder said on
the sidelines of the Morgan Stanley technology, media and
telecoms conference in the Spanish city of Barcelona.
The Wind acquisition turned Vimpelcom into a global player
and was intended as a growth plan, but was bitterly opposed by
36-percent owner Norwegian telecoms group Telenor (TEL.OL),
which said the deal made no strategic or financial sense.
Lunder defended the deal on Thursday, saying the business
was proving resilient as it faces harsh reforms forced by
Italy's sovereign debt crisis, and said Vimpelcom took a
long-term view of the market.
"There is size and quality and a future for Italy. I think
they have a sovereign debt problem right now and they will
resolve it. And when that's done I think Italy can easily turn
into a very healthy market," he said.
But Lunder said Vimpelcom had no plans for further
international expansion, having now achieved the scale it needed
to drive knowledge-sharing and procurement efficiencies. "For
the time being, that's it. Now it's internal things," he said.
Lunder said Vimpelcom would be interested in consolidation
in countries where it was already present -- something for which
telecoms operators have long hoped but which has been resisted
by regulators and is now hard to finance for many carriers.
"We see clearly a lot of synergies coming out of in-market
consolidations, and again, if that's beneficial for Vimpelcom
shareholders to participate in that, we are ready to look at
it," he said.
(Editing by David Cowell)
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