(Adds details, quotes, background)
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, June 20 Russian
state-controlled bank VTB said on Thursday it wanted
to sell part of its stake in Tele2 Russia to help develop the
country's fourth-largest mobile phone company, but would not
consider Rostelecom as a partner.
Yuri Soloviev, first deputy president of VTB's management
board, said the bank would keep control of Nordic telecom
company Tele2's Russian business, which it bought in
April for $3.55 billion.
That sale seemed to dash the hopes of predominantly fixed
operator Rotelecom to buy the asset and expand its presence in
Russia's fast growing mobile market, although some sources said
VTB might have been acting as a middleman and would sell later.
"Our talks with a number of private investors are in quite
an advanced stage. I believe we will sell a certain part of our
stake within the next three-four months. It will be a
co-investor, we will still control our investment," Soloviev
told Reuters on the sidelines on the St Petersburg Economic
"We are not discussing the sale of any stake in Tele2 to
Rostelecom ... It will be investors who can develop this asset
with us in the future," he said.
Expectations of a merger between Tele2 Russia and Rostelecom
increased last month 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.
"Provotorov has extensive experience in the telecoms
industry. He will be responsible for creating a general
development strategy, for deals, including M&A," Soloviev said.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by
Maria Kiselyova; editing by Elizabeth Piper)