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Mobile operator Veon has "alternative routes' to move cash amid Russia sanctions

By Reuters

By Piotr Lipinski and Juliette Portala

-Veon has “alternative routes to move cash”, Ukraine’s biggest mobile operator said on Monday after its boss warned that providing full-year guidance would be “irresponsible” in light of Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European country.

Russia and Ukraine, where Veon operates the Beeline and Kyivstar mobile networks respectively, are the company’s two biggest markets, followed by Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

The Bermuda-registered company, whose Ukrainian mobile network is “completely running” with 4,000 people on ground, according to its Chief Executive Officer Kaan Terzioglu, said it was closely monitoring sanctions imposed on Russia.

The European Union, along with the United States and other Western partners, said on Saturday it would cut off a number of Russian banks from SWIFT, a secure messaging system which allows banks to connect for rapid cross-border payments.

“We have alternative routes to move cash in and out of countries,” Veon’s management said in a call, citing “multiple accounts in multiple banks” dealing with different currencies.

“We are in discussions with our relationship banks from different countries on how we can mitigate any kind of changes in the SWIFT regulation but so far, it is functioning.”

“IT WOULD BE IRRESPONSIBLE

Russia’s rouble plummeted nearly 30% to hit a record low against the dollar on Monday, while Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 20% to counter risks of rouble depreciation and higher inflation.

“It would be irresponsible to give guidance to the market at this particular time,” Terzioglu told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress.

Analysts at Renaissance Capital said the group had reported a “decent” set of fourth-quarter results, with revenue ahead of consensus. Those at J.P. Morgan added that the lack of guidance wasn’t surprising but would put more pressure on the stock.

After being suspended on the Amsterdam stock exchange in early trading, Veon’s shares were headed for their worst ever day, down 32.3% to 0.52 euros ($0.5832) at 1506 GMT.

($1 = 0.8917 euros)