* UK regulator gives unofficial green light - sources
* Deal could happen late Nov-early Dec
* Company reported strong Q3 results
By Megan Davies
MOSCOW, Nov 10 Russia's No.2 mobile phone
company, MegaFon, is likely to go ahead with its
planned stock market float in London this year after receiving
an unofficial green light from the UK regulator, sources
familiar with the matter said.
MegaFon had aimed to raise around $2 billion from its
initial public offering this year, but several sources have said
it would have to delay the share sale until 2013 if it did not
get the nod from the UK Listing Authority (UKLA) in time.
MegaFon has cleared and resolved any material issues with
the UKLA, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday.
Official approval is expected when MegaFon's IPO prospectus has
been completed, the source said.
The company is expected to make a formal statement on the
IPO launch in the coming weeks. The deal could happen in late
November or early December, before capital markets wind down for
the end of the year, sources have said.
The float by MegaFon, which is controlled by Russia's
richest man Alisher Usmanov, would rank as the biggest by a
Russian company since Internet search firm Yandex
raised $1.4 billion when it floated in New York in May 2011.
The UKLA approves an IPO prospectus when it is satisfied a
company has met its listing criteria. Among issues the UKLA
typically examines is the shareholder structure. Any particular
concerns are typically listed in the 'risks' section of the
Usmanov told Reuters in September that he would fold his
stake in MegaFon and other assets into a new holding company,
co-owned by one of his partners Vladimir Skoch, father of
billionaire Russian lawmaker Andrei Skoch, who helped build up
iron ore miner Metalloinvest.
Goldman Sachs dropped out as an underwriter of the
IPO in October, which one source familiar with the situation
said at the time was over unspecified shareholding concerns that
were not related to Usmanov.
The UKLA was now satisfied with the information provided
with regard to the new holding company structure, one of the
The UKLA gave the go-ahead for the offering on Friday, said
a second source familiar with the situation, meaning the float
can happen this year. A third market source also said the IPO
had received the green light but gave no more details.
A fourth source familiar with the matter said work still
remained to be done on the prospectus, indicating a final sign
off may not yet have been received.
"We intend to complete the IPO this year and that will be
on the basis of an approved prospectus from the UKLA," said a
spokesman for MegaFon. He declined to comment further.
A spokesman for the UKLA declined comment.
MegaFon announced plans for the offering in early October
but later said it would put off launching the roadshow until it
had published its third-quarter results.
Those results, released on Thursday showed gains in
revenues, earnings and margins that analysts said would boost
MegaFon's goal of achieving a valuation comparable with its
competitors, MTS and VimpelCom.
Sources have said a stake of around 15 percent in MegaFon
could be offered to investors in London and Moscow, with Nordic
telecoms firm Teliasonera selling down its stake.
MegaFon also plans to pay down some of the debts it took in
on in a restructuring deal in April that saw tycoon Mikhail
Fridman exit the business and Usmanov secure overall control.