Rostelecom may sell up to $1.4 billion shares in 2014: paper

MOSCOW Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:59am EST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled telecoms operator Rostelecom (RTKM.MM) may sell up to 46 billion roubles ($1.4 billion) of shares in a secondary public offering (SPO) of treasury stock to help it cut debt, business daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

The possible offering of a 15 percent stake is provisionally planned for the second half of 2014 and would see the company offer shares at no less than 120 roubles each, the newspaper wrote, citing a source close to the company. Rostelecom's shares were up 0.2 percent at 106.43 roubles in early trading.

Rostelecom has repeatedly said it could sell shares, accumulated during several buybacks related to its reorganisation, to help reduce debt.

In October, it sold a 2.7 percent stake to Russia's state-backed private equity investment fund and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) for $237 million.

"While greater liquidity would be positive, we think, the SPO price of 120 roubles is below the level of the recent buybacks (136 roubles and 124 roubles), suggesting certain value dilution for shareholders," said analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

A spokeswoman for Rostelecom said there were no details of a possible share sale as it had yet to be discussed by the board. The company currently holds 16.6 percent of its own shares in treasury and quasi-treasury stock.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Megan Davies and Mark Potter)

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