Veon has indicated that is planning to leave the Russian market in which it operates under the name Beeline, although it has made it clear that it does not have a buyer yet.
Describing itself as "a global digital operator that provides converged connectivity and online services", it has announced that it is conducting a competitive sales process in relation to its Russian operations.
The Netherlands-headquartered group has further explained that its management “is 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”.
It has also warned, however, that there are no guarantees of a sale, that it has not committed to anything with regards to its Russian operations, and that there is no guarantee that any of the options that may be considered will be completed or approved by any relevant parties.
Nevertheless this is big news. Veon serves over 200 million customers in seven high-growth markets, of which its Russian division is its largest in terms of revenues and customers. In addition, the Beeline brand has been around in Russia since 1993, when the then owner Vimpelcom was one of the first mobile carriers in Russia. After a series of mergers and acquisitions, the company became Veon.
An exit after such a long time would signal a major change to the Russian telecommunications landscape.