NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of VimpelCom (VIP) are rallying, up 5.79% to $6.39 on heavy volume in midday trading Friday, following reports that the company is in merger talks with conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (HUWHY), controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, Reuters reports.
The two companies are in "exploratory negotiations" about a possible merger into an equal joint venture of their Italian mobile businesses, Reuters added.
Vimpelcom CEO Jean-Yves Charlier said the two companies were holding talks about an Italian mobile deal.
On Wednesday, the company posted mixed first quarter earnings results before the opening bell.
VimpelCom earned 11 cents per share, topping analysts' estimates of 8 cents per share.
Revenue of $3.52 billion for the quarter missed analysts' $3.55 billion consensus estimate.
About 2.55 million shares of VimpelCom exchanged hands as of 12 p.m. ET today, compared to its average trading volume of about 1.86 million shares a day.
Netherlands-based VimpelCom offers mobile telecommunications services to its subscribers under contract and prepaid plans.
The company also provides voice, data and Internet services to corporations, operators and consumers using metropolitan overlay network.
Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates VIMPELCOM LTD as a Sell with a ratings score of D. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate VIMPELCOM LTD (VIP) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its generally high debt management risk, weak operating cash flow and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself."