The board of directors of Russia’s state-run telecoms holding company Svyazinvest has approved a deal to take a 50% stake in mobile operator SkyLink in return for a 1.91% holding in national operator Rostelecom, which is currently held by Rostelecom’s wholly-owned Mobitel offshoot; TeleGeography notes that Mobitel’s shares were acquired from a number of dissenting shareholders who failed to support the structural reorganisation of Rostelecom last year. The 1.91% stake in Rostelecom is reportedly valued at RUB9.4 billion (USD290.1 million) by Svyazinvest, based on an independent appraiser’s valuation of SkyLink. The remaining 50% stake in SkyLink will be retained by the operator itself.
In November 2011 Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) approved Rostelecom’s approach to acquire a 50% stake in its sister company SkyLink. Previously, in May 2011, Rostelecom revealed its intention to acquire the smaller company, with a view to merging it with its other mobile assets, as purchased through its so-called ‘mega-regional merger’, which closed in April 2011. Rostelecom hopes that the addition of SkyLink will help it to achieve its goal of nationwide cellular coverage by the end of 2015. SkyLink holds frequency rights in the 450MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz bands, covering 96% of the Russian population. The CDMA operator launched GSM services in 45 regions in December 2010, and received permission to roll out a W-CDMA network in March 2011.
In other news, Rostelecom has announced that it has enlisted Swedish telecoms vendor Ericsson to deploy 6,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) across 4,000 locations. According to Ericsson, the BTS will be configured to support GSM, EDGE, W-CDMA and HSPA platforms and will be Long Term Evolution (LTE)-ready. The network rollouts will concentrate on urban centres such as Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg, and have a total capacity of 1TBps.