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Russian Carriers, Retailers Stop Buying Samsung Smartphones

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Two Russian wireless carriers and two of the country’s largest handset retailers said they stopped buying Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones, citing concerns over defective units and disagreements over repair guarantees.

Carriers PJSC MegaFon and VimpelCom Ltd. and retailers Euroset Holding NV and Svyaznoy suspended ordering from the South Korean company. VimpelCom stopped purchases after faulty units among Samsung devices reached as high as 7 percent, more than among other brands, the carrier said in an e-mail.

Svyaznoy stopped ordering Samsung phones and tablets in June and keeps selling what’s left of previously bought batches, spokeswoman Maria Zaikina said by phone. Samsung’s share of smartphone sales in Russia may have dropped by 25 percent over the recent month, according to Svyaznoy estimates.

Samsung “remains committed to providing the best possible products for Russian consumers,” the company said in an e-mail. It declined to comment on its relationship with Russian retailers.

The two carriers and two retailers operate more than 11,000 stores combined, according to St. Petersburg-based research firm INFOLine. Samsung phones are still available in Russia through some other retailers and online stores.

Euroset suspended purchases in May, Chief Executive Officer Alexander Malis said by phone. “The volume of defective units surged, our customers were unhappy, and Euroset had to bear repair costs,” he said. Euroset is co-owned by MegaFon and VimpelCom Ltd.

Apple, Lenovo

MegaFon stopped buying Samsung phones until “unresolved issues” between the companies are settled, Tatyana Zvereva, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said by phone.

Samsung sold $1.46 billion worth of smartphones to Russia last year, accounting for about 23 percent of the value of units sales in the country, researcher IDC estimates.

Products from Apple Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd. and others are replacing Samsung in sales, Euroset’s Malis said.

The Russian companies’ decision to stop buying from Samsung was earlier reported by Vedomosti.

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