Russia may buy Sistema Indian JV new shares-paper

MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - The Russian government is considering buying additional shares issued by Shyam TeleServices, an Indian joint venture of Russian holding company Sistema SSAq.L, Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday.

Russia may buy 23.7 billion roubles ($686.4 million) worth of new shares in Shyam TeleServices, in which Sistema currently owns 74 percent, Kommersant said, citing a draft of the revised 2009 federal budget and two unnamed sources.

As a result, the government could get around 20 percent in the Indian mobile operator, while Sistema is keen to retain a controlling stake, the paper said.

Kommersant also quoted an unidentified source as saying the deal would be part of India’s debt settlement scheme.

Of the $1 billion owed to Russia, Moscow has so far received $700 million that it can spend only on investment projects in India, the newspaper reported.

Sistema AFKC.MM, controlled by its chairman, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, is building a pan-Indian telecom operator on the basis of Shyam TeleServices. ($1=34.53 Rouble) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Hans Peters)