Veon sells stake in Algerian mobile operator for $682 million

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STOCKHOLM, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Mobile operator Veon (VON.AS) has sold its 45.57% stake in Omnium Telecom Algerie SpA to the Algerian National Investment Fund for $682 million, it said on Friday, saying regulations in the country did not fit its strategic plan.

Veon, which owns telecom operators in Ukraine and Russia, said the sale increased the group's liquidity to $3.1 billion.

Omnium owns Algeria's second biggest mobile operator, Djezzy.

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Veon usually operates in developing countries where there is large, young population, allowing for growth in internet and smartphone users.

One of the criteria for Veon to work in developing countries is the chance to expand into verticals beyond telecom to financial services, entertainment and healthcare, Chief Executive Kaan Terzioglu said in an interview.

"The regulatory environment in Algeria was very restrictive in that sense... infrastructure sharing and monetization is also restricted," he said.

Veon, which announced its intention to divest its stake in July last year, runs mobile networks in several other countries, including Bangladesh and Pakistan.

"We built a beautiful enterprise. But when the strategic aspirations don't meet, we thought it would be the best thing for us to sell our shares to the government," Terzioglu said.

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Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by David Goodman and Mike Harrison

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