Dear VEON stakeholder,
I am writing you today to highlight the strategic progress we are making across our operations, as well as provide updates on a number of key issues for our Group.
Liquidity and capital markets
We continue to prioritize maintaining the Group’s healthy liquidity. Our cash position at HQ level currently stands at around US$1.3 billion, which is deposited with international banks and fully accessible. In addition, around US$700 million remains available to VEON as part of a committed revolving credit facility, underwritten by a group of diversified lenders headquartered in the United States, Europe and Asia. VEON has no further material debt maturities at HQ level for the rest of 2022.
Besides this HQ liquidity, our operating companies currently have a total cash position equivalent to over US$500 million. Considering the self-sufficient nature of each of our operating subsidiaries, VEON is well placed to weather the complex market conditions we currently face.
VEON shares continue to trade on Nasdaq and on Euronext. Their market turnover in March was equal to more than two times our free float. Understandably, the price of VEON’s shares has been impacted significantly by the deterioration in the geopolitical environment. While the price of our ADRs has recovered from the closing price low of US$0.26/share, it remains below the US$1/share minimum required by Nasdaq. As a result, VEON was notified on April 7, 2022 that the Company no longer meets the exchange’s Listing Rules, based on the closing bid price for the last 30 consecutive business days. These rules do provide for the resolution of the matter, should the closing bid price of the Company’s security be at least US$1 for a minimum of ten consecutive business days at any time during the 180-day period following the notification. Further extensions and other options will be available. As and when the current geopolitical volatility subsides, I am confident that VEON’s share price will better reflect fair value.
Committed to connectivity
We provide connectivity, access to information and other vital digital services to 220 million customers across nine countries. One third of VEON’s customers are in Ukraine and Russia, where they are supported by 33,000 employees. Our top priority is to protect the safety and well-being of these employees and their families while they work hard to ensure that our subscribers can stay connected and access what is an essential humanitarian service.
The outstanding job done by Kyivstar in maintaining connectivity and supporting its customers has been covered extensively,including in this article by Reuters. I want to applaud once again the extraordinary dedication of our team, who have worked tirelessly to keep the people of Ukraine connected, informed and safe. Kyivstar’s technicians are currently repairing equipment in areas of the country that are now safe to enter, and 91% of all transmission sites are now operational.
To maintain our high standards of service in Ukraine, Kyivstar’s team have also overseen the construction of 121 new base stations in the western part of the country. Furthermore, to ensure essential connectivity in these challenging and unpredictable conditions, we are growing our partnership with Starlink.
Kyivstar continues to serve its customers withroam like home – for free, which enables about 2 million subscribers to remain connected without additional roaming fees as they take refuge in European countries.
Our core mission of providing customers with connectivity, access to information and other vital digital services applies to all of our markets. The humanitarian need for connectivity is as important as other basic needs such as food, water, shelter and health care.
In Russia we are facing a new and challenging economic environment. The quality of our network remains a key focus, and Beeline continues to launch VoLTE in new regions, to build new LTE base stations and to progress in the fiberization of its transport infrastructure. While the pace of these developments has somewhat decelerated due to the current context, Beeline is proactively addressing market-wide component availability issues through cooperation with other major domestic telecom operators, building new supply chains and introducing flexible sourcing. Beeline’s extensive 4G roll-out over the previous two years has proven vitally important, and I am pleased to note that the company’s NPS trends continue improving, especially in Moscow.
Continued growth across our footprint
Among other key developments from our operating companies, I would like to highlight:
· In Pakistan, Jazz’s growing 4G penetration and digital services continue to contribute to customer loyalty, engagement and value generation, while enabling the broader digital transformation of Pakistan. For example, Jazz continues to support its B2B partners, including with a new cloud platform Garaj, which provides virtualized IT services to enterprises, including start-ups. I am also pleased to welcome Atyab Tahir as new CEO of JazzCash, the number one mobile banking services provider in the country that recently applied for a digital retail banking license.
· I recently visited our operations in Bangladesh and was impressed by the scale, scope and ambitions of our subsidiary Banglalink, the consistent winner of the Ookla 4G speed test over the last 2 years that recently purchased 40Mhz of 2300-band spectrum. This move doubles its frequency holding and ensures faster internet speeds and high-quality digital services for its almost 38 million customers. Banglalink is also expanding its digital experience offering beyond the significant success of Toffee, the top entertainment app in the country. In March the operator launched Bangladesh’s first digital health aggregatorHealth Hub, which helps to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for millions of Bangladeshis.
· I also visited Uzbekistan at the end of March and was delighted to see the turnaround being achieved by Beeline, which reported double digit growth in the last two quarters of 2021. With Sherzod Shermatov, Minister for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, we jointly inaugurated a new ‘hyper-speed’ channel rolled out by Beeline to connect the two main cities of Tashkent and Samarkand at a speed of 600 Gbps. Building on these and other investments, Beeline continues to serve its customers with an exciting portfolio of offers, including their first digital operator service, which launched in March.
· I visited Algeria last week, where I met the Djezzy team. Djezzy, the country’s leading mobile operator, has had a strong start to the year, after delivering a good performance in 2021. The latest release of the Djezzy app includes new e-payment and subscription options as well as extended content access, stepping up the digital operator profile of the company. At the same time, the put exercise process is moving ahead well and we are currently in constructive dialogue with our partner to complete the transaction. Throughout this process, we remain committed to the stability of the company as well as its continued positive business performance.
- A global telco operator with the highest governance standards
VEON is a global telecoms group, providing customers in 9 countries essential connectivity as well as digital services ranging from entertainment to healthcare and banking. We remain committed to generating value for all our stakeholders and maintaining the highest level of governance, transparency and compliance. In this context, let me also once again welcome Michiel Soeting, former global lead partner from KPMG, who joined the VEON Board as a non-executive director and Chairman of the Audit & Risk Committee effective March 16, 2022.
As per our last update on March 15th, VEON is not the subject of any sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States or the United Kingdom, and our counterparties’ ability to continue to do business with us has not been impacted by these measures. The international community understands our position as an essential service provider, with regulators outlining their commitment to support sectors essential to humanitarian activities that support the flow of information and access to the internet.
I will continue to keep you updated, and your feedback is most welcome. Should you have any questions on the topics covered in this letter, or other matters related to VEON, please do contact our IR team via [email protected] Thank you for your continued trust in our company.
Kaan Terzioğlu – VEON Chief Executive Officer
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