UPDATE 2-Bank Rossiya says may take part in Tele2 Russia deal

Fri Oct 4, 2013 11:15am EDT

MOSCOW Oct 4 (Reuters) - Bank Rossiya is considering taking part in a deal for a stake in Russian telecoms operator Tele2, the St Petersburg-based bank said in response to a report that companies representing the bank have asked permission to buy 50 percent of the business.

State-controlled VTB bought 100 percent of Nordic telecom Tele2's Russian business in April for $3.55 billion.

Analysts have said they expect VTB to sell the firm on to another party, with many pointing to Rostelecom, the country's fifth largest telecoms operator, as an option.

Interfax news agency earlier reported that Russia's anti-monopoly service, FAS, received a request from companies representing Bank Rossiya for permission to buy 50 percent of telecoms operator Tele2 Russia from VTB.

"Bank Rossiya is considering the possibility of participating in this deal," a press officer for the bank said by email, making no further comment regarding the details of its interest.

St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya was reported in the Russian press in June to be interested in buying a stake in Tele2, but the bank was expected to be an intermediary rather than the final purchaser of the business.

Bank Rossiya is part owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, a St. Petersburg banker whose association with President Vladimir Putin dates back to the early 1990s.

Interfax reported on Friday that Invinte B.V. and ABR Investments, affiliated with Bank Rossiya, applied for permission from FAS.

A FAS official confirmed two companies had applied but could not name them or the entity they represent.

VTB said that the bank might sell a stake in Tele2 in the next couple of weeks but that it intends to remain a large minority shareholder with a share not less than 20 percent. The bank declined comment on potential buyers.

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