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Russia state bank may get Svyazinvest

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MOSCOW, Feb 13 - Russian fixed line telecoms holding Svyazinvest, whose privatisation has been delayed for nearly a decade, may be transferred to state-controlled bank VEB, Kommersant reported on Friday.

The moves would effectively re-consolidate previously privatised shares in state telecoms.
Citing a source familiar with the negotiations, the business daily also said the state bank could take over the 25 percent stake in Svyazinvest sold to a consortium lead by billionaire financier George Soros in 1997 in one of Russia's most lucrative sell-offs.
That stake is now owned by the Sistema holding, which proposed in October that the government buy it back for $1.9 billion. It is currently serving as collateral on a $1 billion loan from Sberbank, Kommersant said.
The government is also discussing the purchase of 40 percent of shares in Svyazinvest-controlled fixed-line telecom operator Rostelekom which are now held by KIT Finance, a broker bailed out by the state diamond and railways monopolies in the crisis.
VEB took over Svyaz Bank in one of the first big bank bailouts late last year. Kommersant said Svyaz Bank handled most of the industry's transactions.

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