Iliad Group founder Xavier Niel has outlined his aims of establishing a "telecoms champion" in Ukraine, after his investment firm, NJJ Capital, received regulatory approval to buy fixed connectivity provider Datagroup-Volia, which he plans to merge with Lifecell.

In a statement, Niel's investment vehicle NJJ, along with US private equity firm Horizon Capital and Datagroup-Volia, confirmed that NJJ had been granted regulatory approval last month to acquire Datagroup-Volia.

X_Niel @Joel Saget AFP Photo_4.jpg.jpg
Xavier Niel – Iliad/Joel Saget

Niel said that once the remaining conditions are met for its acquisition of Turkcell’s Ukrainian unit, Lifecell, he intends to merge the two companies.

Datagroup-Volia currently serves more than four million premises across Ukraine, while Lifecell provides mobile services to around 10 million customers. The company operates more than 35,000 kilometers across more than 100 cities in the country.

NJJ Capital agreed to acquire Lifecell in January, for a fee estimated to be more than $500 million.

Niel said that the approval from regulators is "a significant step towards the creation of a national Ukrainian telecom champion."

"Ukraine is home to an impressive tech sector with innovation in artificial intelligence, a high degree of digitalization, and technological affinity," said Niel.

"We are confident that our landmark transaction will serve as a signal to others that the time to invest in Ukraine is now, to support the rebuilding of the country and realize its potential."

French tycoon Niel has built something of a telco empire across Europe. The Iliad founder also holds a stake in UK telco Vodafone, plus Luxembourg's Millicom International Cellular (MIC), and in November he took a six percent stake in Belgian telco Proximus.