Russian telecoms holding company Svyazinvest is believed to be keen on acquiring a 51.8% stake in the country’s largest cable TV provider, National Telecommunications (NTC), according to local news reports. The state-owned holding company has made no secret of its intention to enter the lucrative Moscow cable market this year, but in September 2010 it was forced to suspend talks to buy broadband and cable provider Akado, due to recently resigned chairman Yevgeny Yurchenko’s disagreement over the mooted USD1.2 billion purchase price. Although it was believed that talks would be resurrected as soon as Yurchenko was replaced, it seems that Svyazinvest has now turned its attentions towards the alternative cableco.
According to a report in Kommersant, three Svyazinvest subsidiaries – Rostelecom, Uralsvyazinform and North-West Telecom (NWT) – have all applied to the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to purchase the available stake, which is likely to be priced at around USD1.4 billion. Rostelecom currently lacks a presence in the Moscow broadband market whilst NTC has a strong representation in the city and surrounding region, through its Mostelecom brand. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, NTC’s cable network passes at least 5.1 million households, claiming more than 4.5 million subscriptions to its services in Moscow, Moscow Region, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. Alongside its analogue and digital TV services, NTC also offers cable broadband and fixed telephony services. The company reported 300,000 broadband subscribers as at end-2009, although TeleGeography has been unable to establish a more recent subscriber figure.