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Russia’s Svyazinvest board approves Sky Link sale to Rostelecom

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MOSCOW. June 29 (Interfax) - The board of directors of Russian state-run telecommunications holding Svyazinvest has approved swapping a 50% stake in CDMA operator Sky Link for a 1.91% common stake of major wireline operator Rostelecom owned by Rostelecom’s unit Mobitel, Svyazinvest said in a statement Friday.

Svyazinvest said that in exchange for the 50% Sky Link stake it will obtain 1.91% (56.29 million common shares) in Rostelecom from Rostelecom subsidiary LLC Mobitel. The 1.91% stake has been independently valued at 9.4 billion rubles.

The Svyazinvest-Mobitel deal was discussed by shareholders of the government holding company on July 23.

Sky Link provides CDMA standard mobile phone services and holds GSM licenses in 45 regions and permission to build 3G networks in the 2.1 Ghz range throughout almost the entire territory of Russia. Svyazinvest wholly owns the company, directly holding 50% of Skylink capital and owning the other 50% through its subsidiary MS Direct.

The exchange of Sky Link shares for Rostelecom shares is part of the second phase of the government company's reorganization. The first saw the merger of Svyazinvest interregional companies with Rostelecom, which was completed on April 1 2011. Svyazinvest and Rostelecom will merge during the second phase. To complete the second phase, the government has approved a complex reorganization scheme, which aims to avoid redemption of cross-owned shares (Svyazinvest and Rostelecom own 43.4% and 25% plus one share, respectively, in each other) and a reduction in the government stake.

Before the merger, Svyazinvest will increase its share in Rostelecom, buying shares from Rostelecom subsidiary Mobitel. Mobitel currently owns 6.55% of Rostelecom and it will transfer around 1.91% of that to Svyazinvest in exchange for Sky Link. Svyazinvest will buy another part of Rostelecom shares from Mobitel for 1.7 billion rubles. Svyazinvest will receive this money from Rostelecom itself within the additional share issue in which it plans to obtain shares in regional companies.

The deals with Mobitel will enable Svyazinvest to increase its stake in Rostelecom from 43.37% to around 45.7%. Rosimuschestvo owns 7.43% of voting stock in Rostelecom. Vnesheconombank owns 2.26% of capital and 2.45% of voting stock in Rostelecom. Thus, Svyazinvest, Rosimuschestvo and VEB own 53.25% of voting stock in Rostelecom.

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