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VimpelCom buys 100% of Irkutsk-based subsidiary of Tele2 -1

(Recasts, adds additional information in paras 2-5)

MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - VimpelCom has bought 100% of shares in Corporation Severnaya Korona (CSK), a mobile operator based in Siberia's Irkutsk Region, from Sweden's Tele2 AB for $232 million, Russia's second largest cellular operator said.

Severnaya Korona holds GSM 900/1800 and D-AMPS licenses covering the Irkutsk Region, home to about 2.5 million. The region has mobile phone penetration of around 108%.

According to estimates of VimpelCom, which operates under the Beeline brand in Russia, Severnaya Korona had more than 571,000 subscribers at the end of June including over 3,000 D-AMPS clients, or 21.5% of the entire cell phone market in the Irkutsk Region.

Commenting on the acquisition, Nikolai Pryanishnikov, VimpelCom's vice-president and general director for Russia, said: "The acquisition of CSK substantially enhances our position in Russia and expands the communications options available to existing and new subscribers. We plan to integrate the acquired company into VimpelCom's network as soon as possible and offer the local population Beeline's high level of service."

Following the acquisition of CSK, VimpelCom's operating area covers 75 out of 85 administrative regions in Russia, the news release said.

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