Swedish telecoms giant Tele2 has denied Russian media reports suggesting that the company plans to sell its Russian subsidiary. In a statement issued late on Tuesday, Tele2 said: ‘The management of Tele2 Russia is not holding any talks on the sale of its business’. Earlier that day RBC Daily reported that Tele2 intended to sell its Russian unit if it does not manage to obtain frequencies in the government’s long-delayed Long Term Evolution (LTE) spectrum auction. With this in mind, the business daily revealed that Tele2 had already held preliminary consultations with national wireline operator Rostelecom, a company which harbours ambitions of taking on Russia’s self-styled ‘Big Three’ mobile operators (Mobile TeleSystems [MTS], MegaFon and Vimpelcom) in the emergent 4G sector.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database Swedish alternative operator Tele2 entered the Russian mobile market in late 2001 via the acquisition of Fora Telecom, the holding company for the Russian mobile assets of Millicom International Cellular (MIC). Tele2 has subsequently expanded its footprint by gaining new licences in government spectrum auctions, and currently has a presence in 43 regional markets. However, much to its chagrin, the cellco has been repeatedly denied a licence to operate in Moscow, whilst an all-important 3G concession has also been withheld from the firm, limiting future growth prospects.