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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Renaissance Ups Vimpelcom to ""Buy""

Renaissance Capital said Wednesday it has upgraded Moscow-based cellular operator Vimpelcom to a short-term "buy" on improved prospects for finding a strategic partner for its regional development strategy.

Vimpelcom announced this month it was negotiating with a subsidiary of the Alfa financial industrial group on the sale of a stake in Vimpelcom-R, the subsidiary it has set up to build networks in Russia's regions.

Vimpelcom said it was also negotiating with current shareholders. Its strategic partner in its Moscow operations is Telenor of Norway.

Russia's top three mobile operators -- Vimpelcom, its chief Moscow competitor Mobile TeleSystems and St. Petersburg holding Telekominvest, which operates the NorthWest GSM network -- are racing to build networks outside their home cities.

"We upgrade our recommendation on Vimpelcom, as the company's prospects for finding a strategic partner for regional networks development appear to have improved," telecoms analyst Andrei Braginsky wrote in the report.