Blavatnik may buy stake in Russian mobile retailer-report

MOSCOW Mon May 20, 2013 4:26am EDT

MOSCOW May 20 (Reuters) - Billionaire American industrialist Leonard Blavatnik may buy a stake in Russian mobile phone retailer Svyaznoy for $200 million, Russia's business daily Vedomosti reported on Monday, citing a source close to one of the retailer's shareholders.

The Odessa-born tycoon is founder and chairman of Access Industries, through which he owns chemicals, real estate and media assets such as Warner Music.

He was also part of the AAR consortium which sold their half share of Anglo-Russian oil firm TNK-BP to Rosneft for $28 billion earlier this year, in a deal that turned Rosneft into the world's largest listed oil firm by output.

The tycoon, who emigrated to the United States in 1978, set a trend by converting his Russian wealth into large assets in Europe and the United States. Access has offices in New York, London and Moscow.

Blavatnik may buy a stake from Maxim Nogotkov, the controlling owner of Russia's second largest phone handset retailer, the paper said.

The retailer had been planning to either go public or sell a stake to investors, however it put those plans on hold last year after raising debt to finance growth.

Svyaznoy, which competes with Russia's biggest mobile phone retailer Euroset, has seen its value estimated in the past at $1.8-$2.6 billion.

Svyaznoy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Blavatnik's press office was not immediately available for comment.