The shareholders of Russian mobile operator SMARTS Group have voted to transform the company from a closed joint-stock company (CJSC) into an open joint-stock company (OJSC), thus denying a minority investor the opportunity to take control of the firm. Majority shareholders, which include SMARTS CEO Gennady Kiryushin with a 60.55% stake and Director General Boris Skvortsov with 15%, announced their intention to sell up last year, but as a CJSC the shares must first be offered to existing shareholders. VolgaTelecom, a subsidiary of state telecoms holding company Svyazinvest, has a stake of just under 3% and has expressed an interest in buying the company. Other shareholders felt, however, that better returns could be had from a public sale, and last week they held an extraordinary meeting to vote on the change to open status. Based in Samara, SMARTS provides digital cellular services in 16 Russian regions covering approximately 34 million people. It claimed around four million subscribers at the end of 2007 according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database.