MTS, Vimpelcom offer up to $4.25 bln for Tele2 Russia

MOSCOW, March 28 Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:59pm EDT

MOSCOW, March 28 (Reuters) - Russian mobile phone operators MTS and Vimpelcom said on Thursday they had offered to buy the Russian unit of Swedish rival Tele2 for $4.0-4.25 billion, including $1.15 billion of net debt.

In a joint letter to Tele2 Chairman Mike Parton and President and CEO Mats Granryd, the companies expressed interest in acquiring Tele2, with the joint bid seen ensuring regulatory approvals, they said in a joint statement.

"We ... would be prepared to enter into discussions immediately with the aim of being able to conclude a transaction within a short timeframe and hence deliver the sort of transaction certainty we imagine Tele2 would be seeking," the companies said in the statement quoting their CEOs.

Tele2 said on Wednesday it would sell its Russian unit to Russian state-controlled bank VTB in a $3.5 billion deal, followed by a statement from a unit of Vimpelcom's biggest shareholder Alfa-Group that it is prepared to make a counter offer.

MTS and Vimpelcom said their offer represented a premium of up to 30 percent compared to the bid made by VTB.

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