Kyivstar Future: Ownership Disputes and Nationalization Rumors

Kyivstar is Ukraine's largest mobile operator, but its future is uncertain amid ownership disputes and nationalization rumors.

What lies ahead for one of Ukraine’s prominent media and telecommunications companies in the future?

The largest mobile operator in the country, Kyivstar Future, was one of 20 businesses from various industries that had their assets seized recently, according to the Security Services of Ukraine (SSU). Responding swiftly, Kyivstar refuted claims of a complete asset seizure, asserting that only its corporate rights were taken, with no impact on its operational functions, contrary to media reports.

Simultaneously, the Dutch-registered firm Veon, the sole proprietor of Kyivstar Future, declared the completion of the sale of its Russian operations and confirmed its withdrawal from the country. Additionally, Veon provided a comprehensive clarification, including a rebuttal, of media reports concerning Kyivstar.

Michael Fridman
Michael Fridman
Peter Aven
Andrei Kosogov

The statement conveyed that the three individuals whose corporate rights were taken away—Michael Fridman, Peter Aven, and Andrei Kosogov—do not possess any shares in Veon or Kyivstar. Veon clarified that Kyivstar Future was incorrectly associated with Fridman in reports suggesting that Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice is in the process of finalizing a lawsuit to confiscate his assets in the country. Fridman, a Ukrainian-born, Russian-Israeli oligarch who established Alfa Group and later the international investment company LetterOne, used to serve on the supervisory board of directors at Veon until he was sanctioned by the EU in 2022.

Despite the assurances from Kyivstar and Veon, there are persistent local rumors regarding the future of Kyivstar Future .Some speculate that it may undergo nationalization or be divided and sold to other companies if a proven ownership connection with Fridman exists.

In the broader context, Ukraine is currently engaged in a state of conflict and is striving to harmonize the structure governing its media sector with that of the European Union. The current ownership of significant media holdings by oligarchs contradicts this objective.

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