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Billionaire Kerimov linked with 28.2% NTC stake

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Rostelecom, Russia’s dominant fixed-line phone operator, plans to boost its stake in pay television operator National Telecommunications, or NTC, to 100 percent, Kommersant reported.

NTC accounted for 19% of the cable TV market in Russia in 2Q2011 and Rostelecom a further 4%.

Rostelecom may spend 13.8 billion rubles ($460 million) to acquire the 28 percent of NTC shares it doesn’t already own from OAO Gazprombank, the Moscow-based daily said, citing unidentified people.

Вut according to unconfirmed story by RBC Daily, Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov – who currently holds a minority shareholding in national fixed line giant Rostelecom – also in talks to buy a 28.2% stake in NTC.

Kommersant reports that Rostelecom’s board will next Tuesday consider the acquisition of the remaining 28.2% stake in the company it does not already own for a fee of 13.8 billion rubles.

Rostelecom acquired 71.8% of NTC in February 2011 for a reported 27.8 billion rubles.

The remaining shares are understood to be currently owned by Gazprombank and VTB Capital, with Sberbank having sold its stake to Gazprombank.

In May 2011 financial organisations Gazprombank, VTB Capital and Sberbank Capital rejected Rostelecom’s mandatory buyout offer for their respective minority stakes, citing a prohibitively low valuation. It is unclear how much Kerimov – who diluted his own shareholding in Rostelecom to around 2% last month – has offered for the remaining shares.

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