|This article may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (May 2009)|
|Product type||Mobile telephony, mobile phones retailing, international telephony, broadband Internet, IPTV, city-wide Wi-Fi, domain name registrar and others|
|Owner||OJSC VimpelCom/VimpelCom Ltd.|
|Related brands||Bee+, Golden Telecom, Corbina|
|Markets||Russia & Eurasia|
|Tagline||"Live on the bright side"|
OJSC VimpelCom is Russia's third-largest wireless and second-largest telecommunications operator. Its headquarters is located in Moscow. Since 2009, OJSC VimpelCom has been a subsidiary of VimpelCom Ltd., which is based in Amsterdam. VimpelCom's main competitors in Russia are Mobile TeleSystems, MegaFon and Tele2.
The commercial service was launched under the Beeline brand, a brand developed by Fabela in late 1993 to differentiate the company as a youthful and fun company, rather than a technical company. The name comes from the English term "beeline", meaning the most direct way between two points.
VimpelCom relaunched Beeline with the current characteristic black-and-yellow striped circle in 2005 with a campaign to associate the brand with the principles of brightness, friendliness, effectiveness, simplicity, and positive emotions; with a new slogan "Живи на яркой стороне" (Live on the bright side). The rebranding campaign was hugely successful and the principles associated with the brand captured hearts and minds.
In 2004, VimpelCom, in its first move outside Russia's territory, acquired Kazakhstani cellular operator KaR-Tel (brand names K-Mobile and Excess). In November 2005 VimpelCom stepped further with foreign acquisitions by acquiring 100% of Ukrainian RadioSystems, a marginal Ukrainian GSM operator operating under the Wellcom and Mobi brands. The deal has been surrounded by a controversy involving two major shareholders of VimpelCom: the Russian Alfa Group and Telenor, the incumbent Norwegian telecommunications company.
The company's current (as of July 2008) license portfolio covers a territory where 97% of Russia's population resides, as well as 100% of the territory of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, and Armenia. VimpelCom also has a 49.9% stake in Euroset, the largest mobile retailer in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In May 2010 VimpelCom merged with Kyivstar to form VimpelCom Ltd., the largest telecom operator group in the CIS. Alexander Izosimov, CEO of OJSC VimpelCom, was appointed president.
On 16 November 2006, VimpelCom acquired the 90% share in ArmenTel CJSC held by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA (OTE) for €341.9 million. VimpelCom also took on ArmenTel's debts of €40 million. The remaining 10% share of the company is held by the Armenian government. In 2008 ArmenTel's commercial services were rebranded as Beeline, bringing it into line with VimpelCom's existing networks in other countries.
In 2011 Beeline entered Laos as VimpelCom Lao, replacing former Tigo. 22% shareholding remains with Lao government. 3G HSPA+ services began in January 2012. Numbers on Beeline Laos are 020-7xxx-xxxx. Beeline Laos 4G LTE to be launched soon. Now it is on a trial period.
Beeline Ukraine (known as Ukrainian RadioSystems (URS) before February 2007) was a mobile operator in Ukraine with 2.22 million GSM subscribers (February 2007). The company operated under Beeline brand. In 2010 Beeline merged with Kyivstar. Now all Beeline Ukraine subscribers became Kyivstar subscribers.
The company was founded in 1995, and Motorola acquired 49% of the company in 1996. URS obtained a GSM-900 license in 1997, but Motorola backed off the venture the same year due to an alleged government favoritism to another mobile operator. The Korean Daewoo picked up the ownership, didn't do much to grow the business and sold it to a Ukrainian financial group in 2003. In November 2005, 100% of the company's ownership was acquired by the Russian VimpelCom for $230 million. The deal was surrounded by a controversy involving two major shareholders of VimpelCom: the Russian Alfa Group and Telenor, a Norwegian telecom conglomerate.
Following the acquisition by VimpelCom, all of the company's services have been rebranded as Beeline, similar to a VimpelCom's major mobile assets in Russia. In 2010 Beeline Ukraine (URS) was merged with Kyivstar. Now company operates only under Kyivstar brand.
In July 2009 VimpelCom cooperated with a Vietnamese telecommunication company, GTel Telecommunications, to open a new mobile phone network in Vietnam called Beeline Vietnam. However, in 2012, after three years of business losses, Beeline withdrew from the joint venture and the Vietnamese market in general. Gtel Mobile continues to exploit the remaining base in Vietnam with a new brand, Gmobile.
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