MOSCOW (Reuters) - Telecoms firm Vimpelcom VIP.O said on Thursday it still expected to merge its Italian business with that of CK Hutchison Holdings (0001.HK) around the end of 2016, a day after European regulators blocked a separate Hutchison deal.
European Union antitrust regulators on Wednesday rejected Hutchison’s plan to acquire O2 UK from Spain’s Telefonica (TEF.MC), a decision which cast doubts on prospects for approval of the Vimpelcom-Hutchison deal in Italy.
The proposed Italian transaction, worth 21.8 billion euros ($25 billion), would create the largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers in Italy by combining Hutchison’s 3 Italia and Vimpelcom’s WIND.
In March, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the agreed merger, on concerns it could lead to higher prices for consumers.
Vimpelcom said on Thursday a deeper review “does not in any way pre-judge or prejudice the final outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the transaction” and confirmed it expected the deal to be completed around the end of 2016.
It made no comment on the Commission’s decision on Hutchison’s UK deal in a statement announcing first-quarter results.
Vimpelcom’s total revenue fell 12 percent to $2.0 billion in January-March due to negative currency effects while “organic” revenue growth, excluding foreign currency movements and other factors, was 4 percent.
Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) declined 19 percent to $758 million while net profit rose 3 percent to $189 million, it said.
Vimpelcom said it had paid fines totaling $795 million as part of a previously disclosed settlement with U.S. and Dutch authorities over an investigation into its business in Uzbekistan.
Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Mark Potter