Yevroset Announces Plans to Cut Staff

MTChichvarkin speaking in an interview last week. He said Yevroset's sale to Mamut had helped with liquidity problems.
Yevroset said Wednesday that it was cutting jobs as the financial crisis threatens to slow economic growth.

The total work force of 35,000 is being reduced by "several percent," spokeswoman Natalya Aristova said by telephone. The cuts will affect office employees, rather than sales workers, at the country's largest mobile phone retailer.

Billionaire owner Alexander Mamut may announce an agreement "within days" to sell a stake of as much as 49 percent in the retailer to VimpelCom, the country's second-biggest mobile phone operator, Yevroset chairman Yevgeny Chichvarkin said Tuesday in an interview.

VimpelCom applied to regulators for permission to take a stake in Yevroset, spokeswoman Yekaterina Osadchaya said, without elaborating.

Borrowing requirements for Yevroset will increase at the end of next month as it buys inventory for the Christmas holiday, said Chichvarkin, who with partner Timur Artemyev sold the company to Mamut last month.

"It helps to have a new shareholder being a rich, clear company," Chichvarkin said of Mamut's ANN investment firm, through which Yevroset was acquired.

Without Mamut, the company had been at risk of paying back "a lot of loans" and ending up short of cash, he said.

"Two and half weeks ago, we were all waiting for what we've got today: a strong support of liquidity," Chichvarkin said. "If it had happened then, we may not have done this deal. Back then, there were more modest measures because fighting inflation" was more important to the government, he added.

Kommersant reported last month that the billionaire paid $400 million in cash and assumed about $850 million of borrowings, citing a source familiar with the matter.