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Russia may privatize Rostelecom in 2015 – minister

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MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government may privatize telecoms giant Rostelecom in 2015 after the company completes a reorganization, Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said on Wednesday.

The government’s reorganization plan envisages the merger of national telecoms holding Svyazinvest into the country’s long-distance operator Rostelecom in 2013-2014.

“This will be a remarkable day when Rostelecom becomes a private company and enters the competitive market,” the minister said, adding the state should quit strategic sectors.

Various options for Rostelecom’s privatization are on the table, he said.

“Various scenarios are being discussed, including an alliance or gradual entry into the market. A decision will depend on the market situation.”

Then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed an order in March to merge Svyazinvest and Rostelecom. The order stipulates that the Russian government and the country's national development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) will maintain a holding of over 50 percent to keep control of the new company, which will work under the Rostelecom brand name.

The merger of the two telecom firms is the second phase of Rostelecom's reorganization. The first phase, completed in April 2011, comprised Rostelecom's merger with regional fixed-line telecom providers.

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