DUBAI/PARIS Telecoms group Vimpelcom VIP.N has hired Standard Chartered (STAN.L) to advise it on the sale of its businesses in Burundi, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Cambodia and Laos, two people familiar with the matter said.
New-York listed Vimpelcom wants to focus on its largest markets of Russia and Italy, while reducing its debt, the people said. The units on the block came to Vimpelcom when it bought a 51 percent stake in Egypt-based Orascom Telecom and all of Italy's Wind in 2011 for $6 billion.
"The move is part of a wider strategy by the company to review some of their smaller businesses globally and especially in emerging markets," said a source familiar with the transaction.
"The group has really grown in size post the Orascom deal and there is a feeling that they need to be only in markets which are strategically important and of relevant size."
Orascom said earlier this week it was considering the sale of its interests in Burundi, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic.
The Financial Times earlier reported that Orascom's parent Vimpelcom was working on those divestments, along with those in Cambodia and Laos, and pegged the value of the units at around $60 million.
A person familiar with the matter said the African businesses would be worth less than $100 million, but did not give valuation estimates for the Asian operations.
"These are not huge businesses and the size of the transactions there will not be huge," said the person.
Vimpelcom declined to comment on who the advisers were, adding it was looking at all options during the process.
The company's largest shareholders are Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group and Norwegian telecoms group Telenor (TEL.OL), which have long been at loggerheads over its strategy. (Reporting By Dinesh Nair; Writing by Christian Plumb and Leila Abboud; Editing by David Holmes)