Former Veon exec Latsanych to head Caucasus telecoms operation

Vasyl Latsanych.jpg

The Azerbaijan investor that owns Bakcell and is building the Digital Silk Way as a backbone through the Caucasus has appointed Vasyl Latsanych as its head of telecoms.

Latsanych (pictured) is now head of telecoms for Neqsol, a diversified Azerbaijani investor with interests including energy and cement as well as telecoms.

He was CEO of Beeline – the Russian mobile operator owned by Veon – for two years until 2020 after spending a decade heading marketing for rival operator MTS, owned by Sistema.

Veon announced in April 2020 that Alexander Torbakhov would replace him as head of Beeline Russia.

Latsanych said: “My top priorities will include further integrating the holding’s existing telecoms assets, efficiently developing convergent services in Neqsol Holding’s markets of operation, and finding opportunities for our development in new markets. I am looking forward to working with the team to explore new opportunities for the business in the telecoms sector.”

Neqsol, based in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is 100% owned by local businessman Nasib Hasanov, whose main interests include Nobel Oil.

In telecoms, Neqsol bought mobile operator Bakcell in 2005. It owns Azerconnect, a business-to-business technology company, and AzerTelecom, a subsidiary of Bakcell that provides Azerbaijan with high-speed internet and other telecommunication services.

The investor announced plans for the Digital Silk Way in 2018, with the intention of building a fibre network connecting Europe with central and south Asian markets through Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Two years ago Neqsol bought Vodafone Ukraine, a strategic partnership with UK-based Vodafone group that was previously known as MTS Ukraine.

More controversially, Neqsol in 2019 spent a reported $61 million on buying 49% of Caucasus Online, an internet service provider based in Tbilisi, capital of neighbouring Georgia.

The Georgian regulator opposed that takeover and last year Caucasus Online called on the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to assist after the country’s regulator appointed a special manager to the company’s board.

Last year Neqsol bought the remaining 51% of Caucasus Online for an undisclosed sum, though the Georgian National Communication Commission (GNCC), the regulator, opposed the deal. In March 2021 it said: “Currently, Nasib Hasanov unlawfully owns 100% of Caucasus Online.”

Caucasus Online owns the Caucasus Cable System, a 1,200km fibre across the Black Sea from Balchik in Bulgaria to Poti in Georgia.