ST PETERSBURG, Russia May 22 Russia's
second-biggest mobile operator Megafon is considering
ways to hedge against risks of sanctions although it does not
expect to be affected, its chief executive said on Thursday.
"I don't think there is any real risk for the telecoms
industry to be hurt," Ivan Tavrin told Reuters on the sidelines
of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
"We should be prepared, and there are several measures which
we are taking. If, potentially, there (are) any sanctions on the
telecom industry, roaming could be hurt, but we are talking to
our roaming partners about that."
Tavrin said that Megafon could pay for equipment in
currencies other than roubles, such as dollars, euros or Hong
Kong dollars to its Chinese partners.
Washington and the European Union and have already imposed
several rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals and some
companies over the crisis in Ukraine.
Sanctions against various Russian individuals and entities
have hurt the company only "emotionally", he said, as Megafon's
shares took a hit when the broader market tumbled.
The company and its owners have not been targeted in any
sanctions. Megafon is not dependent on external debt markets and
its biggest equipment supplier is China's Huawei.
Tavrin also said he did not expect an economic slowdown in
Russia to have a material impact on its business.
"Mobile services became a part of a consumer basket," he
said. "So I don't think it should be affected," Tavrin said.
Megafon earlier forecast 6-8 percent revenue growth for this
year, ahead of bigger rival MTS' plans to achieve
revenue growth of 3-5 percent. But third-biggest mobile operator
Vimpelcom this month cut its full-year outlook after its
Russian mobile revenues fell 3 percent in the first quarter.
Tavrin said that under Russian accounting standards (RAS)
Megafon's revenues rose 8.5 percent in the first quarter,
year-on-year. RAS results differ from international reporting
standards as they do not include subsidiaries and affiliates,
but are an indication of performance.
"Therefore, we are having secure growth," he said. He
declined to elaborate ahead of the group's first-quarter results
announcement on May 29.
He said management remained committed to proposing paying
dividends twice a year.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Kyril Sukhotski. Editing by