MOSCOW, Sept 5 Russian telecoms operator
Rostelecom has hired investment banks and an
accountancy firm to advise on a possible joint venture with
mobile-focused rival Tele2 Russia, Vedomosti newspaper reported
on Thursday, citing sources.
The company has hired JPMorgan and Credit Suisse
, as well as accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers,
Vedomosti reported. The likely option is a joint venture in
which Rostelecom takes control, the paper said.
A spokesman for Rostelecom said: "We confirm that we are
working with consultants on the question of strategy for the
mobile business and different scenarios for development. We are
not commenting on details."
Analysts have speculated Rostelecom would be a likely
partner for Tele2's Russia division since Russian
state-controlled bank VTB in April bought the unit
from Nordic telecom company Tele2 for $3.6 billion.
Expectations of a merger between Tele2 Russia and Rostelecom
increased when Alexander Provotorov, a former CEO of Rostelecom
who had backed the idea of a merger between the pair, was
appointed to run Tele2 Russia.
VTB has said it wants to sell part of its stake in the
business to help develop the country's fourth-largest mobile
"We consider a (joint venture) with Tele2 Russia as the
right step in Rostelecom's development, while maintaining a
controlling stake will be a key issue for the company," wrote
Sergey Vasin, analyst at Gazprombank, in a research note.
"Together with Tele2, Rostelecom would be able to fully compete
in the mobile market."
Rostelecom is Russia's fifth-largest mobile operator, while
Tele2 is the fourth. The majority of the Russian mobile market
is controlled by three home-grown carriers - MTS,
Megafon and Vimpelcom.