| ST PETERSBURG, June 20
ST PETERSBURG, June 20 MegaFon
, Russia's second largest mobile phone company, may
consider buying assets belonging to state-owned mobile firm
Rostelecom if the government sells its stake and
invites them to bid, its CEO said on Thursday.
Russia is considering selling its 53 percent stake in
Rostelecom to domestic rivals MTS, MegaFon and Vimpelcom
, Kommersant reported on Wednesday.
"If there is any offer from the government (regarding
Rostelecom) we will look at it in due course," said CEO Ivan
Tavrin, although he added there had been no discussions about
An MTS spokesman said on Wednesday that it would also
examine any specific proposals.
However, communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov was
quoted by Interfax on Thursday as saying that no scheme of
privatisation of Rostelecom was being discussed.
Rostelecom has been touted as a potential merger partner for
the Russian assets of Tele2, which was bought by
state-controlled bank VTB in March from Nordic
telecoms group Tele2. VTB bought the asset as a
financial investor and is expected to sell it on to strategic
VTB said earlier on Thursday that it was in advanced talks
with private investors to sell part of its stake in Tele2
Russia, which it bought in April for $3.55 billion, and expected
a deal in the coming months.
Tavrin said buying Tele2 would not be the best way forward
for MegaFon, which is controlled by tycoon Alisher Usmanov and
part-owned by Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera.
"MegaFon has so much upside inside the company and
unrealised synergies that any M&A should be very carefully
(considered), especially M&A worth billions of dollars," Tavrin
"Their customer base is orientated on voice which is
declining in some countries, and we are much more data driven in
terms of our plans," he said.
"I'm not sure (buying Tele2) is the best way for us."
Tavrin confirmed earlier reports that MegaFon is in talks to
buy next-generation telecoms operator Scartel, an operator with
which it already has a partnership and which is majority-owned
by Usmanov's USM Holdings.
"Scartel - its spectrum, its subscribers - is a very
interesting asset," Tavrin said. "If we acquire Scartel, the
obvious benefits are that we would own the network that has been
built by them, we would be the leader in 4G, we would own the
Tavrin confirmed that a deal is being considered and
discussed between the two parties but said there had been no
"If we buy Scartel, our controlling shareholder USM Holdings
very kindly and honestly have announced it would be sold at
cost," he said.