MOSCOW Dec 19 The long-expected privatisation
of Russian state-controlled telecoms operator Rostelecom
will be possible in 2015, communications minister
Nikolai Nikiforov said.
Nikiforov, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, did not say
what size stake could be put up for sale. Rostelecom is 53
percent controlled by the government.
The former fixed-line monopoly has been beefed up recently
by a merger with several regional operators aimed at boosting
its share of lucrative market segments such as mobile, broadband
and pay-TV, and offsetting declines in its core business.
But since a government reshuffle following the presidential
election this spring, Rostelecom's management has come under
fire regarding its investment programme.
Nikiforov said he believed the government should not
interfere with Rostelecom's "operating activity" but added there
were questions regarding the efficiency of its
Government leaders want Rostelecom to focus on building out
Russia's internet infrastructure and not to expand its mobile
presence even after the company recently won a fourth-generation
The mobile market is too competitive to make a maximum
return, Nikiforov said.
MANAGEMENT UNDER PRESSURE
The homes of Rostelecom CEO Alexander Provotorov and
minority shareholder Konstantin Malofeev were recently searched
as part of a fraud probe unrelated to Rostelecom, fuelling
speculation Provotorov may be ousted from his post.
Reports suggested he may be replaced by Vadim Semyonov, the
CEO of Rostelecom's state-controlled shareholder, holding
company Svyazinvest, which is in the process of merging with
Dmitry Strashnov, who this week stepped down as the CEO of
Swedish telecoms group Tele2's Russian unit, has been
named as another possible candidate to take over at Rostelecom.
Russian media have speculated that Tele2 could seek control
in a merger of the mobile assets of its Russian unit and those
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who has a broad
remit covering industrial policy, said in October Rostelecom
should focus on providing the backbone of Russia's internet
He also called at the time for change in Rostelecom's
management. Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, Dvorkovich stood
by those comments but declined to be drawn on which candidate he
would like to see heading the $12 billion business.
(Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Maria
Kiselyova; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter)