Neqsol sets up Amsterdam office as it plans east-west link by 2026
The investor that owns Bakcell in Azerbaijan and Vodafone Ukraine is setting up a new main office in Amsterdam as it plans a greater global presence.
Neqsol is also building the Digital Silk Way as a fibre backbone through the Caucasus and an alternative to other subsea and terrestrial routes between Asia and Europe.
Vasyl Latsanych (pictured), head of telecoms at Neqsol and new chairman of the board of directors of Vodafone Ukraine, told Capacity: “We are moving business leadership to Amsterdam.” An office in the Netherlands would be the base for the group’s business leadership, with a focus on European rules on GDPR – the EU-wide privacy legislation – and “know your customer”.
Neqsol already has businesses in nine countries, and the company is planning its Digital Silk Way, which will include a link east-to-west across the Caspian Sea.
“Connectivity between China, the ‘Stan’ countries and Europe is critical,” said Latsanych, a Ukrainian who was CEO of Beeline – the Russian mobile operator now being sold by Veon – for two years until 2020 after spending a decade heading the marketing for rival operator MTS, owned by Sistema, a major Russian industrial group.
Five countries border the Caspian Sea, with Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to the east and Russia surrounding most of it. Capacity understands that the Caspian Sea link is likely to connect Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, keeping well clear of the three other countries.
Neqsol plans terrestrial connections east and west of the sea, the world’s largest inland body of water. “We can’t go south or north,” he told Capacity. “But the link between China and western Europe is to shortest connection.” However, “it is absolutely not straightforward”, and Neqsol says it has the expertise to work with operators between Europe and China.
The company is working on a joint venture with Kazakhtelecom that will be part of the east-west link. “We can collect traffic in the Caspian area. But there are a lot of countries, a lot of difficulties,” he said.
He is hoping that partnerships, routes and connections can be negotiated and that the Digital Silk Way can be in service in “two to three years”.
Capacity will be publishing a full interview with Latsanych shortly, including more details of the Digital Silk Way and Vodafone Ukraine’s wartime experiences