Tele2 says completes Russia unit sale to VTB

STOCKHOLM Thu Apr 4, 2013 12:38pm EDT

The logo of Nordic telecoms group Tele2 is seen outside the company's branch in St.Petersburg, March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

The logo of Nordic telecoms group Tele2 is seen outside the company's branch in St.Petersburg, March 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nordic telecom operator Tele2 (TEL2b.ST) said on Thursday it had completed the sale of its Russian business to state-controlled bank VTB (VTBR.MM), despite complaints from rival bidders.

Tele2 struck a $3.5 billion deal last week to sell the assets to VTB and carried it out in a rapid sale process though it was topped by two alternative offers, both linked to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

Tele2 Chairman Mike Parton said in a statement the completion of the deal was an "excellent result" for the company's shareholders, among which Swedish investment group Kinnevik (KINVb.ST) is the biggest.

"Our cash investment in this business was SEK 6 billion and this has generated a cash return of over SEK 27 billion including the transaction, much of which has been returned to our shareholders," Parton said.

Among the rival bidders, Russia's top mobile phone operator MTS (MBT.N) teamed up with No.3 player Vimpelcom VIP.N - part owned by Fridman - to bid $4.0-4.25 billion for the asset.

Fridman's investment company A1 also bid, offering $3.6-$4 billion and threatening legal action against Tele2 and its adviser Morgan Stanley.

MTS, Vimpelcom and A1 all declined to comment on the news of Tele2's completion of the deal with VTB.

(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Additional reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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