The Russian government may succumb to pressure from the military, and prohibit foreign investors from buying its controlling stake in national operator Rostelecom, paving the way for a deal with the self-styled ‘Big Three’ mobile firms – Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), MegaFon, and Vimpelcom. Kommersant quotes an unnamed government source as saying: ‘We wanted to create one more market player alongside the Big Three, but we can choose an alternative scenario. We can sell Rostelecom as a platform for the Big Three’. Under the development strategy released by the Economic Development Ministry in late May this year, the government is expected to sell its entire stake in Rostelecom by the end of 2014. Even if overseas investors are barred from acquiring the stake, the government expects to raise USD5 billion from the sale the source added.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, state-owned telecoms holding company Svyazinvest currently holds 41.84% of the share capital in Rostelecom, with the remaining stakes held by the Russian Federation (via FASPM, 6.86%), Vnesheconombank (2.26%) and holding company Mobitel (5.24%), with the remaining 43.80% in free float.