Russia’s third-largest mobile phone operator by subscribers MegaFon’s CEO Sergei Soldatenkov has said the company is interested in acquiring Greater Volga Inter-regional Association of Radio-telecommunication Systems (SMARTS). SMARTS is Russia’s seventh-largest wireless operator by subscriber numbers with 4.04 million clients as of 31 May. No deal has been struck yet, and Soldatenkov feels the mooted USD1 billion valuation of SMARTS is too high, but said, ’If an auction for the sale of SMARTS is announced, we will be bidding’.
Soldatenkov revealed MegaFon is also interested in acquiring Yekaterinburg Cellular Communications, which operates under the Motiv trademark, and is considering the possibility of acquiring other Russian fixed line and broadband internet providers, although he noted, ‘Unfortunately the major companies have already been sold, and the smaller ones do not interest us. But if a decent-sized one is put up for sale then we will be involved,’ he said.
Although previously announcing it may launch an initial public offering (IPO) in 2009, Soldatenkov also announced it will now not launch an IPO until its restructuring has been completed and all subsidiaries have become branches of MegaFon and the company’s shareholder structure has been formalised.