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By Tatiana Voronova and Maria Kiselyova
MOSCOW, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Russia’s biggest mobile phone operator MTS is in talks to buy event ticketing company Ticketland for around 3 billion roubles to 3.5 billion roubles ($51 million-$60 million), two sources told Reuters.
One source, close to MTS’s parent company Sistema, said MTS was in talks with Ticketland shareholders about the acquisition for more than 3 billion roubles.
The source said on Friday that MTS planned to proceed with the deal notwithstanding that Sistema was entangled in a multi-billion-dollar legal dispute with oil company Rosneft .
The business conglomerate, which groups the assets of Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov, this week cancelled a deal to sell shares in retailer Detsky Mir because a court froze its stake in the company. More than half of its MTS stake is also frozen as part of the dispute.
A source, familiar with MTS plans, said Ticketland shareholders wanted to sell the company for 3.5 billion roubles and that MTS was a contender.
Gleb Davidyuk, the managing partner of Russia-based private equity fund iTech Capital which invested $10 million in Ticketland in 2013, confirmed that Ticketland was up for sale but declined to comment on the talks or possible buyers.
“iTech Capital is a family of investment funds with a portfolio of projects it has to exit. Ticketland, like many others of our companies, has been put up for sale,” Davidyuk said in emailed comments.
“Once the deal is completed, we’ll be happy to comment on the details,” he told Reuters.
MTS, Sistema and Ticketland Chief Executive Officer Vitaly Vinogradov declined to comment.
Ticketland is worth an estimated $84.2 million according to Forbes magazine which placed it 20th in the 2017 ranking of Russia’s largest internet companies.
The company sells more than 3.5 million tickets annually and has a 30 percent share of the Moscow event ticketing market, according to Vinogradov. Annual sales stand at 6 billion roubles, Vinogradov said.
Apart from Moscow, Ticketland operates in St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, and sells tickets through retail box offices and call centres, as well as via its website and mobile app.
Apart from iTech Capital, a major shareholder in Ticketland is Sergey Solonin, the chief executive and co-owner of Russian payment provider Qiwi. ($1 = 58.7425 roubles) (Reporting by Tatiana Voronova, Anastasia Teterevleva and Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Susan Fenton)