Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman is preparing to expand his holdings in the telecoms market with investment vehicle Letter One.
The billionaire businessman will operate the Letter One Technology platform as a private equity-style fund to invest in telecoms assets across Europe, with initial funding of $16bn (£11bn).
The technology offshoot of the Letter One group will act as holding company for the interests of the Alfa Group Consortium, consisting of Alfa Telecoms Turkey and Altimo, which owns a 47.85 per cent stake in Nasdaq-listed international telecoms operator VimpelCom.
The new venture is to be led by Alexey Reznikovich, previously chief executive of Altimo and currently a member of the Alfa Group Consortium board.
Letter One Technology’s board will also include Sir Julian Horn-Smith, senior adviser at UBS and CVC, and previously deputy chief executive of Vodafone Group.
Other board members include Lastminute.com co-founder and chief executive Brent Hoberman and Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien.
According to the company, Letter One Technology is aiming to develop through deals to buy controlling and significant influence stakes in sizeable companies, with a transaction value of over $1bn, in the telecoms sector.
The group said it will focus on “special situations such as turnaround of distressed and underperforming assets, other value opportunities including add-on acquisitions to the existing asset base and complementary parts of the value chain”.
Letter One hit the headlines recently when it became involved in a spat with the UK government over its proposed takeover of energy company RWE Dea.
Energy secretary Ed Davey attempted to block the deal over concerns surrounding RWE Dea’s North Sea assets, which he said could be adversely affected if Letter One Energy were to be impacted by Russian sanctions arising out of the country’s dispute with Ukraine.
Davey said he would potentially force Letter One to sell the assets, while the company said it was considering legal action over the government’s interference in the deal.
Letter One Energy, chaired by former BP boss Lord Browne, is now attempting to sell the 12 active North Sea oil and gas fields.