Russian WiMAX operator FreshTel has received USD155 million in credit from Russian bank Vneshekonombank (VEB) in exchange for 100% of its shares, Kommersant reports. Under the terms of the agreement, the bank has pledged to support the company’s future ambitions with a USD60 million investment in network expansion.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in July local media reports suggested that FreshTel parent company Icon Private Equity – which is co-owned by Russian tycoon Suleiman Kerimov and Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk – was preparing to sell the company to TransTelecom (TTK), the national fixed line telecoms operator which is wholly owned by Russian Railways, in a deal valued at USD300 million, although such a deal never materialised. In recent years Rostelecom has also been strongly linked with a move for the WiMAX firm.
FreshTel currently has a presence in both Russia and Ukraine, where it utilises spectrum in the 3.5GHz band to provide wireless broadband services. Despite a long-term presence in both markets, in Russia FreshTel has seen its fortunes eclipsed by those on one-time WiMAX contemporary Scartel (Yota), which was granted regulatory approval to use its more sought-after 2.6GHz frequencies to offer Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology instead. In Ukraine FreshTel trades under the name Ukranian High Technologies, whilst in Russia the company also uses the InterProject brand.