Rostelecom votes on mobile spin-off; receives permission to buy bank

15 Nov 2013

According to Bloomberg, Rostelecom’s board is scheduled to convene on 19 November to vote on plans to spin off its mobile assets before their possible merger with VTB Group’s Tele2 Russia. The regulatory filing reportedly details a plan that will see the telco’s cellular assets hived off into a newly formed entity called RT-Mobile. The meeting will also see company executives determine the price for buying out minority shareholders who do not support the move.

In related news, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has cleared a plan by Rostelecom to buy medium-sized lender Sobinbank, a unit of Bank Rossiya, which is itself owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, a St Petersburg banker whose association with President Vladimir Putin dates back to the early 1990s. Earlier this month Bank Rossiya acquired a stake in Tele2 Russia, and the latest deal could be perceived as a strategic move by Rostelecom, ahead of the projected merger. For its part, Rostelecom has suggested that it is interested in buying a bank to develop mobile banking, online payments and microfinance services.

Finally, Rostelecom has reportedly deployed an LTE base transceiver station (BTS) in the town of Naryan-Mar, the operator’s first LTE cell site beyond the Arctic Circle. The BTS, which covers a 5km radius, was supplied by Swedish vendor Ericsson and utilises the 2600MHz band. The equipment is said to be resistant to both low and high temperatures, and supports data transmission speeds of up to 38Mbps.

Russia, Ericsson, Rostelecom, Tele2 Russia