Altimo disputes end with creation of market leader

The central and eastern European telecoms is seeing the creation of a new major player courtesy of moves by Russia’s Altimo to end long standing disagreements with Sweden's TeliaSonera and Norway's Telenor.

Russian telecoms conglomerate, Altimo, ended years of bickering with Nordic operator, Teliasonera, by agreeing with it to combine their assets in Turkey and Russia. This will see a new major player built on the shoulders of Russian brand Megafon and Turkish brand Turkcell.

Mikhail Shamolin, President of Russia's largest mobile service provider MTS, reacted coolly to the announcement.

“We are not planning any changes to our strategy at this moment in time. But if we see certain changes in the market that could influence us we will look into the issue. So far we are hearing about restructuring property ownership.”

Megafon will now move to list its shares on the New York stock exchange, which IFC Metropol analyst, Sergey Kalesnikov, says is a smart business move.

“We think liquidity is shifting towards New York, which would be a great step to tap additional liquidity, and in the long run increase its share price.”

The agreement with TeliaSonera comes in the wake of a similar resolution to a long standing dispute between Altimo and Norway’s Telenor last month over their combined holdings in VimpelCom and Ukraine’s Kievstar. Analysts estimate the capitalization of the four companies at $55 billion. Working together, they are equal in size to Europe’s second largest operator, putting them in the ranks of market leaders Vodafone, France Telecom and Deutsche Telecom.