Russian state-backed fund RDIF to buy Rostelecom stake

MOSCOW, July 2 Tue Jul 2, 2013 3:32am EDT

MOSCOW, July 2 (Reuters) - Russia's state-backed private equity fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), plans to buy a stake in Rostelecom, a spokeswoman for the state-controlled telecoms operator said ahead of its expected privatisation.

The RDIF is part of a pool of investors that would buy shares owned by the company itself, Rostelecom spokeswoman Kira Kiryukhina said on Tuesday. She declined further comment, saying the deal had yet to be completed.

The Vedomosti business daily reported that the RDIF, together with Deutsche Bank, would buy a stake worth $250 million in Rostelecom, Russia's former fixed-line monopoly, without specifying the size of the stake.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment. The RDIF was not immediately available for comment.

Rostelecom chief executive Sergei Kalugin said in May that the company, which owns around 5 percent of its own shares through its Mobitel subsidiary, could sell the so-called treasury stock to reduce its debts.

The government last week halved its privatisation target for next year but still wants to sell its stake in Rostelecom, which is being groomed to compete with Russia's three main private mobile operators - MTS, Megafon and Vimpelcom . (Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Additional reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter)