Half telecoms, half tech. As profit dwindle in the traditional telecoms market, Russian VEON tries to reinvent itself as an internet company. Silvia Antonioli reports.
From telco to tech-co This promo by famous film-maker Spike Lee tells a story of a firm trying to reinvent itself .... Veon says that being a traditional telecoms firm just doesn't cut it anymore so the Russian company is trying to turn itself into a major internet player It started with a new name- it was previously known as a less catchy Vimplecom, a new Amsterdam listing and a new office in the trendy Shoreditch neighbourhood in London just a few steps away from the Google campus and the so-called "silicon roundabout" And Veon, a firm focused on emerging markets, is certainly going all in on this project SOUNDBITE (English) VEON CEO, JEAN-YVES CHARLIER: "It's been a two year journey already with a lot of investment and a lot of work. But here we are about to launch the version 2.0 in quite a number of countries across the world. At the same time the challenge has been about attracting the right talent. We're really going out and bringing unique digital talent." Its plans are ambitious to say the least. It wants to become an internet firm that offers anything from messaging to music and mobile financial services It has already announced partnerships with Deezer, Vivendi, Mastercard and even with will.i.am's wearables company: i.am+ And CEO Charlier says many other joint ventures will be announced soon But with so much work to be done it may well take some time before VEON can enjoy the fruit of its work SOUNDBITE (English) VEON CEO, JEAN-YVES CHARLIER: "We have got two horizons really in terms of our digital strategy the first horizon is not about new revenues. It's about creating digital engagement. So the monetization dimension is really a horizon 2 and we see that as a medium to long term strategy." Going against giants such as Facebook and Google is by no means an easy task. But VEON thinks it's got a edge. SOUNDBITE (English) VEON CEO, JEAN-YVES CHARLIER: "We operate in these frontier markets. These are the telecom and tech markets of the future in countries such as Bangladesh Pakistan or Ukraine." A high risk strategy for high rewards. Potentially.