In Brief:Iliad in exclusive talks over Wind, 3 Italia assets 

VimpelCom and CK Hutchison have entered into exclusive talks with French telecom group Iliad over the possibility of acquiring Italian frequencies and infrastructure assets and setting up a fourth mobile operator in the country. Previous reports have indicated that Wind and 3 Italia,the Italian subsidiaries of VimpelCom and CK Hutchison, have offered to sell assets including 8,000 network sites, frequencies and a roaming deal in a bid to convince EC regulators to approve their proposed merger. The European Commission will now decide whether Iliad, owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, can compete effectively with the other three network operators, including Telecom Italia.

*** Pakistan:Vimpelcom-owned mobile provider Mobilink and Warid Telecom, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Group, have completed the transaction to merge the respective businesses. The transaction, which was announced in late November 2015, saw Mobilink acquire 100% of the shares in Warid, whilst Abu Dhabi Group shareholders acquired a 15% stake in Mobilink. The legal merger of the two companies is expected to be completed within the next six months, and the two firms will shortly file a petition to the Islamabad High Court to begin the process of legal merger.In a statement,Vimpelcom noted that the transaction is expected to create CAPEX and OPEX synergies with a net value of around USD500 million,with an annual run rate of more than USD100 million of free cash flow improvements by year three.

***CK Hutchison and VimpelCom are said to have entered exclusive negotiations with the French telco Iliad over the sale of some of their assets in Italy.Hutchison is looking to merge its Italian mobile unit 3 Italia with VimpelCom’s local subsidiary Wind Telecomunicazioni in a EUR21.8 billion(USD24.2 billion)deal.There are concerns that the proposed merger would not gain approval from European Commission(EC)competition authorities,so the parties have offered to divest a range of assets,including thousands of wireless towers and spare spectrum,in order to ease the EC’s fears by allowing for the creation of a new network operator in the Italian cellular sector, thereby keeping the current four-player setup.
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*** Vietnamese-backed cellco Bitel is planning to spend USD200 million to roll out 4G services, with the deployment set to begin later this year. To date, the operator has installed 84 test sites for LTE,‘located in strategic points of the country,’the official noted.Having failed in its bid to secure spectrum in the 700MHz band at auction,Bitel now plans to utilise its existing spectrum holdings in the 900MHz and 1900MHz bands for the new service. Bitel’s mobile network consists of around 3,000 base transceiver stations (BTS), supported by 20,000km of fibre-optic cabling, covering 24 departments.