Money Matters - Simplified

Golden Growth for VimpelCom?

While it should have come as no surprise to investors, shares of Russian wireless services provider VimpelCom (NYSE: VIP) still jumped 6.6% Friday when the company confirmed it had offered to purchase Golden Telecom (Nasdaq: GLDN) for $105 per share. The tender offer follows months of speculation -- and even a public admission -- that VimpelCom would make a move for the fixed-line broadband services provider.

Golden Growth for VimpelCom?Get original file (4KB)

Hoping to leverage its success in wireless, VimpelCom is aiming to be first in Russia with converged services. In much the same way that integrated telcos like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) do this in the U.S., a combined VimpelCom and Golden could offer consumers in Russia a whole package of communication services including fixed-line, broadband, and wireless telephony.

In the face of a saturated Russian market, VimpelCom and competitor Mobile TeleSystems (NYSE: MBT) are taking numerous steps to keep the growth revving. For starters, the companies are targeting more untapped markets in the surrounding Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Also, both already offer, or plan to offer, new services such as BlackBerry email from Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM).

Time will tell whether this acquisition will bring golden eggs for VimpelCom. In the U.S., AT&T has done well in bringing together massive telecom networks and service platforms, whereas Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) ... well, let's not go there again. But Golden is only a fraction of the size of VimpelCom, so the merger is manageable and should prove fruitful for both companies.