Vimpelcom has completed the repurchase of a 33.3% stake in Freevale Enterprises Inc, a holding company owning 21% of Uzbekistan-based cellco Unitel, for USD57.5 million, giving the Russian cellular group 100% ownership of its Uzbeki subsidiary once again.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database Unitel was previously owned by two wholly owned Vimpelcom subsidiaries: Silkway Holdings (79%) and Freevale Enterprises (21%). In April 2007 Vimpelcom agreed to sell 33.3% of Freevale Enterprises (equivalent to a 7% stake in Unitel) to an unnamed buyer – rumoured to be someone connected to the Uzbeki government – for USD20 million. The deal lowered Vimpelcom’s stake in the cellco to 93% as of 14 July 2007.
At the end of June 2009 Unitel claimed a 25% share of the Uzbeki wireless market, with 3.6 million subscribers, compared to MTS’s 45% and Ucell’s 27%.