Regulator looks to delay Alfa merger

22 Jan 2010

The head of Russia’s competition watchdog, Igor Artemyev, has called for Alfa Group to delay plans to merge its holdings in MegaFon and Turkcell with those of Swedish group TeliaSonera, until it has completed a similar deal with Norway’s Telenor, Reuters reports. As reported by CommsUpdate on 5 October 2009, Telenor and Alfa Group agreed to merge Vimpelcom with Ukrainian operator Kyivstar while re-establishing the Russian cellular giant in the Netherlands, hoping to conclude a long-running legal battle. A month later Alfa and TeliaSonera revealed that they had agreed a similar deal concluding further legal disputes. Despite fears that the Russian government would oppose deals that would see major cellcos move abroad and become tax-resident in other countries, the state initially approved the deals. However, news agency Interfax has quoted Artemyev as saying: ‘Carrying out the two deals at the same time is not desirable and even unacceptable. The right position is that the first deal, on Vimpelcom, goes first, and after it is completed we will decide on the second deal.’ As the country’s commission on foreign investment is yet to sign off on the merger plans, Artemyev feels that regulators should assess the impact of one deal on the market before allowing a second to proceed.