Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is considering trading part of his stake in the country’s second largest mobile phone operator MegaFon for control of Long Term Evolution (LTE) operator Scartel, which operates under the ‘Yota’ brand name. However, Vedomosti reports that the deal is subject to Usmanov’s rumoured purchase of an additional 25.1% stake in MegaFon, from fellow tycoon Mikhail Fridman. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month Usmanov had been linked with a USD5 billion move for his compatriot’s stake; the shares in question are currently held by Cyprus-based Allaction Ltd, itself part of Russian investment firm Alfa Group, which was founded by Fridman, Russia’s seventh richest man, in 1989.
Usmanov completed his acquisition of an 8% direct stake and a 58.9% interest in AF Telecom Holding (also known as Telecominvest) in October 2008, giving him a combined direct and indirect stake of 31.13% in MegaFon. Vedomosti reports that the tycoon is already in talks with Scartel owners Telconet Capital Limited Partnership (74.9%) and the government’s Russian Technologies State Corporation (25.1%), although none of the parties have commented on the speculation thus far.