State to buy Sistema assets

8 Jul 2009

The Russian government has reached an agreement with Sistema to buy its holdings in Svyazinvest and SkyLink, according to a report in Russian newspaper Kommersant. The report, which cites a letter from Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, claims that as part of the government’s plans to play a bigger role in the telecoms industry it will take on Sistema’s RUB26 billion (USD827.7 million) debt to Siberbank in order to acquire the conglomerate’s 25% plus one share stake in telecoms group Svyazinvest and its 50% stake in mobile operator SkyLink. Sistema will also take on a 23% stake in Moscow fixed line network operator MGTS as part of the deal. The agreement will give the government 100% control over Svyazinvest’s operations.

On 24 June CommsUpdate reported on state plans to merge Svyazinvest’s regional mobile networks to create a player in the domestic market capable of challenging the country’s leading operator, Mobile TeleSystems, which is controlled by Sistema.