Svyazinvest to merge mobile operations?

24 Jun 2009

Russia’s Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev has revealed that as part of the company’s restructuring programme Svyazinvest may merge its regional mobile operations to form a single national operator. The incumbent telecoms group owns seven regional cellcos which together accounted for 9% of the Russian mobile market or approximately 14 million customers at the end of December 2008. On 1 June 2009 CommsUpdate reported that the government had cleared the reorganisation of Svyazinvest’s regional and long-distance fixed line businesses under a single banner. Igor Pshenichnikov, spokesman for Svyazinvest said, ‘The strategy in the mobile sector will become clearer once the company works out its general strategy. Depending on how the [fixed line] merger goes, we will decide how to merge the mobile units.’ Shchyogolev has hinted that the favoured strategy may include a merger with one of the three existing national mobile operators, Vimpelcom, Mobile TeleSystems or Megafon. ‘The practical goal for Svyazinvest is to become one of the top four mobile operators on the market,’ Shchyogolev said, ‘The optimal way would be to merge Svyazinvest with one of the big three.’