Feature Article

November 07, 2012

VEB Acquires 100 Percent Stake in Russian WiMax Provider FreshTel

The Russian bank Vneshekonombank (VEB) has taken a 100-percent stake in the Ukrainian WiMax provider FreshTel, in exchange for a loan of $155 million.

Reports came last summer that FreshTel’s parent company, Icon Private Equity, was looking for a buyer for FreshTel. Icon Private Equity was apparently planning to sell FreshTel to TransTelecom (TTK), a national wireline carrier owned by Russian Railways.

If the deal had gone through, it would have been valued at approximately $300 billion.

The bank has pledged over $60 million to support the company’s plan to expand and upgrade its network.

The carrier has a presence in both Russia and Ukraine, operating in the 3.5 Ghz spectrum. Its competitor Scartel was recently granted a license in Russia to use the 2.6 Ghz spectrum giving it access to LTE.

FreshTel has also distinguished itself by offering free modems and free broadband use at night in a promotion held earlier this year.

VEB has also been busy investing in other resources in Russia particular in the biochemical and biofuels areas. The bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) withventure capital firm Bright Capital Management, and Renmatix, a manufacturer of sugar intermediates, to jointly pursue mutually beneficially business ventures. The ventures are potentially worth $760 million.

The deal could also make Russia a stronger export partner in this area by developing innovations in biotechnology, as well as engagement with Russia’s industrial producers.

“Russia's rich endowment of natural resources offers abundant opportunities for our technology. This MOU marks a step toward increasing the footprint of the Plantrose process," said Duncan Cross, Renmatix director and head of the company's Russian initiatives. "Renmatix's water-based conversion technology quickly and efficiently deconstructs woody biomass -in ample supply throughout Russia- into the affordable building blocks for bioethanol, and other sustainable chemicals and fuels.”

Edited by Braden Becker

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