Russia’s dominant fixed line telco Rostelecom continues to consider the possibility of selling its Armenian altnet GNC-ALFA, according to one of its senior officials, Mikhail Oseevsky. The Rostelecom man is quoted by Information-Analytic Agency as saying: ‘We have no [specific plans in place yet] to sell [GNC-ALFA], but, as our experience and the experience of other global players show, the benefits and synergies of cross-country joint ventures are not always obvious.’ Mr Oseevsky went on to say: ‘We have different legislation and different products, so we are thinking about how to organise our work efficiently. Maybe, we should sell it.’
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in November 2017 unconfirmed reports claimed that incumbent national PTO VEON Armenia, formerly ArmenTel and trading under the Beeline banner, was interested in buying GNC-ALFA from Rostelecom, and to that end had carried out due diligence concerning a possible deal. Local press cited an unnamed ‘well-informed source’ as having knowledge of the situation but noted that any deal would have to be undertaken with the approval of VEON Armenia shareholders.
As it stands, Rostelecom owns a 75% minus one share stake in GNC-ALFA via its wholly owned subsidiary, Teleset Networks. In December 2008 GNC-ALFA was awarded a Public Telecommunications Licence by Armenia’s telecoms watchdog, the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC), to operate public telecommunications networks in the country for ten years, including fixed line services. In February 2012 Rostelecom/Teleset invested RUB682 million (USD22.5 million) to take a majority stake in GNC-ALFA, at the time the largest independent internet and data provider in Armenia.