Russian bank VTB will sell its entire stake in mobile operator Tele2 Russia to its investment partner in the company, national fixed line giant Rostelecom, with a final decision on the move potentially arriving within a month, the bank’s president Andrei Kostin told journalists at the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi, quoted by ComNews and TASS. Kostin stated: ‘I think that a decision will be made quickly. I hope that within a month a final decision will be made about the 100% sale of the Tele2 stake to Rostelecom. VTB will fully withdraw from Tele2.’
Currently, Rostelecom owns 45% of Tele2 Russia, with the other 55% shared between a consortium of VTB Group (27.5%), Invintel BV (22.0%) and ABR Investments (5.5%). The government of the Russian Federation has a significant influence in Tele2 Russia – the country’s fourth biggest cellco by subscribers – as the ultimate controlling party of both Rostelecom and VTB Group. A source close to Rostelecom, having reviewed Mr Kostin’s statement, highlighted to ComNews that: ‘State representatives on the board of directors vote on the directive of the government of the Russian Federation. There are currently no directives to members of the board of directors [on the proposed VTB stake deal]’.
At the same Investment Forum, head of Tele2 Russia Sergey Emdin announced that the operator has reached break-even point – recording an annual net profit for 2018 – for the first time since Rostelecom came onboard its ownership in a merger deal in 2014, TelecomDaily reported. Tele2’s annual revenues reached RUB143 billion (USD2.16 billion), an increase of 16% year-on-year, and Emdin declared: ‘We had a very good last year. We grew substantially in terms of revenue … [and] significantly increased in profitability … We have fulfilled the plan for entering the net profit. It can be stated that the company has become profitable.’ While not yet disclosing actual net income figures, Emdin said a fuller disclosure would be released on 5 March.