Akin Gump and Skadden advise as Vimpelcom issues $2bn eurobond

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom have scooped lead advisory roles as a eurobond issued by mobile phone operator Vimpelcom raises $2bn (£1.29bn) to refinance the company’s debt.

The transaction is structured in three tranches. As part of the deal Vimpelcom will issue RUB12bn (£260m) in five-year paper, $600m (£386.6m) in six-year paper and $1bn (£640m) in 10-year paper. It is understood that this is the first time that a non-financial services or non-state-owned company has issued a eurobond that comprises rouble-denominated notes.

Vimpelcom’s longstanding adviser Akin Gump acted for the mobile operator on the issuance, with a team led by partner Fred Heller, who leads the firm’s international finance practice from London and splits his time between the firm’s London and Moscow offices. He was supported by London-based corporate finance counsel Lisa Hearn and co-head of Akin’s international finance group Robert Aulsebrook, alongside New York corporate partner Bruce Mendelsohn.

Skadden advised lead managers Barclays, Citigroup, ING and RBS. Corporate finance partner Pranav Trivedi and capital markets Danny Tricot led the team from London.

Background to this deal:

Akin Gump is one of Vimpelcom’s primary external legal counsel and has acted for the company on a host of M&A and capital markets deals in recent years, including advising Vimpelcom on its acquisition of a 0.1 per cent stake in Euroset as MegaFon acquired the Russian mobile retailer for $1.2bn last year (11 December 2012).

The firm also acted for Vimpelcom on its 2010 acquisition of Weather Investments, transforming the company into a mobile phone giant valued at $21.5bn (£13.58bn) with operations spanning around 20 countries worldwide. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Weather Investments on the deal (4 October 2010).

Amsterdam-headquartered Vimpelcom is now Russia’s third largest mobile phone operator and operates under the name Beeline in Russia.

Skadden has also been involved in some of the biggest deals to grace the Russian telecoms market in recent years. Last April the firm advised longstanding client Altimo as it sold its 25.1 per cent stake in MegaFon to AF Telecom as part of MegaFon’s £5.3bn shareholder restructuring. Akin Gump advised AF Telecom and White & Case acted for TeliaSonera on the deal (25 April 2012).

Click here for an interview with Vimpelcom general counsel Jeffrey McGhie