According to Vedomosti, Rostelecom has signed a memorandum of intent to buy Norilsk Telecom, which is based in the city of Norilsk, in the Krasnoyarsk Krai, from Russian investment bank CIT Finance. Although the projected deal has yet to be confirmed by either party, the report has been endorsed by unidentified consultants close to each firm. Rostelecom has reportedly carried out a due diligence study of the company and is prepared to pay between RUB1.8 billion (USD56.5 million) and RUB2 billion for the telco. According to Vedomosti, cash-strapped CIT Finance is heavily indebted to the Russian Railways (RZhD), and has previously been bailed out by a number of domestic banks after running into problems during the global financial crisis.
Norilsk Telecom was set up in 2004 as a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel and was sold to its top executives and CIT Finance in 2008 for around USD51 million. CIT Finance subsequently acquired full control of the telco and initiated talks regarding the company’s sale to state-owned telecoms holding company Svyazinvest shortly afterwards. With no deal forthcoming, CIT also approached the likes of Vimpelcom, TransTelecom and Comstar UTS with a view to offloading the regional operator. At that time the USD70 million asking price was believed to be prohibitively high.
At the start of 2012 Norilsk Telecom reportedly claimed 62,200 fixed telephony subscribers, 12,000 broadband users and 15,200 cable television customers.