According to Vedomosti, Russian investment firm ICT Group has acquired a 28.6% stake in Italian WiMAX operator Aria from fellow Russian firm Icon Private Equity. The deal means that ICT Group is now the controlling shareholder in the Italian broadband operator. Icon, which retains a 24.7% stake in the venture, originally paid Israeli billionaire David Gilo USD100 million for 75% of Aria in 2008; the identity of the remaining shareholders remains unknown. Although the purchase price has not been disclosed, Vedomosti reports that it is in the ‘tens of millions of euros’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Aria is Italy’s sole national 3.5GHz WiMAX licensee after paying EUR47.57 million for licences in all 21 Italian regions back in February 2008. The company claims that it has around 30,000 customers and networks covering 300 communities in eight regions. Since November 2010 Aria has also offered VoIP services.