Tycoon Usmanov behind Telecominvest stake purchase

17 Jul 2007

A spokesperson for Russian metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov yesterday confirmed reports that a company had acted on his orders to buy 15% in Telecominvest, part-owner of Russia’s third largest cellco MegaFon, and that he was interested in boosting his stake further, according to Reuters. Local business daily Vedomosti reported that billionaire Usmanov, who controls steel and mining firm Metalloinvest, was the backer of AF Telekom Holding, which bought the stake from North-West Telecom for USD410 million. ‘This is a portfolio investment,’ Usmanov’s spokesman said, adding ‘the telecoms market has shown robust growth, and to buy telecoms assets at a reasonable price is an excellent investment.’ Telecominvest owns 31.3% percent of MegaFon, whilst other stakes are held by Sweden’s TeliaSonera (35.6%) and CT Mobile, a unit of private equity vehicle Alfa Group (25.1%). Both TeliaSonera and Alfa previously denied buying the Telecominvest stake. The company was founded in the mid-1990s by current Telecoms Minister Leonid Reiman, who now denies being a beneficial owner.

Russia, MegaFon