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Vimpelcom reports SE Asia revenue boost

Vimpelcom, the parent of Cambodian mobile-phone operator Beeline, said revenues from its Southeast Asian subsidiaries more than doubled in the third quarter from the previous three months.

Revenues grew to US$2.57 million for the three months ended in September, up from just under $1 million in the second quarter of 2009, Russia’s second-largest mobile-phone company said in its third-quarter financial results released late Tuesday.
It lost $17.86 million in the two countries after expenses and capital expenditure were taken into account.

The published numbers do not break down revenues and losses for Cambodia and Vietnam, the two countries in the region where the Moscow-based company operates.

In an online conference call Tuesday, Vimpelcom Chief Executive Officer Boris Nemsic said Cambodian operations earned $3.54 million over the quarter, more than the reported figure for the two countries combined. Company officials did not return a request for comment on the discrepancy Wednesday.

“At this stage, the early results of our operations in Southeast Asia are somewhat volatile,” said Nesmic in the conference call, adding that the data released for the region were incomplete as a result. He said he anticipated full results would be available early next year.

Vimpelcom said net income for the quarter across the entire operation rose to $468 million, more than double the income of $226 million a year prior, aided by a gain from the rise in the Russian ruble against the US dollar.

A 3 percent rise of the rouble against the greenback over the quarter brought $24 million into the company’s coffers, although Victor Klimovich, an analyst at VTB Capital in Moscow, said the foreign-exchange gain was “significantly lower than expected”, adding that the firm must have hedged its position in foreign currencies, resulting in a lower gain.

Vimpelcom has recently been pursuing rapid development in Southeast Asia, and launched operations in Cambodia in May and in Vietnam in July.

Nesmic said the firm had increased the size of its network infrastructure to some 370 base stations across Cambodia, covering 47 percent of the domestic population at the end of September.

Vimpelcom is also buying 78 percent of Millicom Laos Co for $66 million, the purchase of which, Nesmic said, would be wrapped up by year-end.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BLOOMBERG

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