Rostelecom to offer buyout ahead of mobile spin-off
MOSCOW Nov 13 (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled telecoms operator Rostelecom will offer to buy out minority shareholders who do not support the proposed spin-off of its mobile assets, the company said on Wednesday.
The spin-off is part of a strategy shift that will see the former fixed-line monopoly focus on fixed broadband, pay television and media while putting its mobile assets under the management of a partner.
According to reports, Rostelecom plans to contribute its wireless business to an alliance with Tele2 Russia - a former unit of Sweden's Tele2 now owned by VTB and investors led by banker Yuri Kovalchuk, a long-time associate of President Vladimir Putin.
The combination of the fourth- and fifth-largest mobile phone operators is expected to create a stronger rival to market leaders MTS, Megafon and Vimpelcom .
Rostelecom's board will set a price for the buyout and call an extraordinary shareholder meeting to vote on the spin-off of its mobile assets - including data-focused LTE licences - into an entity called RT-Mobile on Nov. 19, it said in a statement.
The board will also discuss the company's strategy through 2018, the company said.
Its preferred shares gained 2 percent on the news while its common stock was flat.