Foreign investors in telecoms sector may have to seek government permission

7 Mar 2008

The latest addition to the Russian government’s bill seeking to regulate foreign investment in strategic industries has suggested making potential foreign investors in telecoms companies seek government approval first. Committee members, representing all four Duma factions, voted unanimously to adopt the amendments. However, Deputy IT and Communications Minister Alexander Maslov argued against the bill stating it will ‘hamper investment on the communications market and will no doubt cause stagnation in the industry’.

Recently the country’s telecoms market, both fixed line and mobile, has presented attractive opportunities for foreign investors. Last month, VimpelCom, the second largest mobile operator paid USD4.3 billion to acquire Golden Telecom, the country’s largest independent fixed line operator. But if the amendments are approved they could have serious implications for future investments such as any privatisation of state controlled Svyazinvest.