Vimpelcom hires UBS to sell Canadian unit -report

MOSCOW, March 22 Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:32am EDT

MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Telecoms group Vimpelcom has hired UBS to arrange a sale of its Canadian unit Wind Mobile, with initial bids seen valuing the firm at between $500 million and $1 billion, Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

Vimpelcom is reviewing its asset portfolio to focus on its most profitable businesses as part of efforts to boost cashflow and reduce debt. The firm declined to comment on the report.

The paper said that Wind CEO Anthony Lacavera's holding company, AAL Corp., was teaming up with Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris's investment firm Accelero Capital to consider a bid, for which they had already secured financing.

Initial bids are due on Friday, investment bank Canaccord Genuity's analysts said in a research note, citing sources.

No comment was immediately available from UBS, and representatives of Lacavera and Sawiris could not be reached.

Egypt's Orascom Telecom, over which Vimpelcom took control in a deal with Sawiris in 2011, said in January it would increase its stake in Wind Mobile to take full control and is currently awaiting regulatory approval.

After the deal was completed, Vimpelcom would consider various options for Wind Mobile, including divestment, its chief executive Jo Lunder told Reuters this month.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Altimo and Norway's Telenor are majority stakeholders in Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom, whose biggest markets are Russia and Italy.

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