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Russia’s Rostelecom said interested in buying CTC Media

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MOSCOW, Apr 28 (PRIME) -- Russian state-controlled telecom giant Rostelecom is negotiating the acquisition of media company CTC Media, although the talks are not at an advanced stage, business daily Vedomosti reported Tuesday, quoting sources.

If the negotiations are a success, Rostelecom could use its own shares, which it had bought back from minority shareholders and partially handed to its unit, Mobitel, to pay for the acquisition, the sources told the daily. Mobitel now owns 10.72% of Rostelecom’s common shares and could get another 2.64%.

President Vladimir Putin signed amendments to the mass media law, which reduce permitted interest of foreign shareholders in Russian mass media to no more than 20% of capital. The changes, coming in force on January 1, 2016, involve more than half of Russian mass media, including CTC Media, in which 75% of shares are controlled by foreigners.

Sweden’s Modern Times Group (MTG) keeps 39% in CTC Media, and the rest is held by foreign funds and investment companies owning shares placed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The remaining 25.4% of shares are held by Cyprus’s Telcrest that has Russian beneficial owners: Bank Rossiya’s owner Yury Kovalchuk and his partners.

Kovalchuk cannot directly buy stakes from foreigners, because the businessman himself and his bank are on the sanction list of the E.U. and the U.S.

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