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Sistema eyes majority stake in telecom Svyazinvest


MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - Russian conglomerate Sistema has ambitions to bid for control of Svyazinvest after a getting a lower-than-expected valuation on the 25 percent plus one share in the telecoms giant it wanted to sell to the state. 
Sistema proposed in October that the government buy back its quarter share in Svyazinvest for $1.9 billion. Sources said last week the stake, which is held by Sistema's unit Comstar , had been valued at about $668 million.
"Comstar is going to file a proposal to the government to buy another 25 percent of Svyazinvest based on a valuation made by Ernst & Young," Sistema's spokeswoman Yulia Belous said on Tuesday.
"In our opinion, this valuation was made based on very conservative forecasts for Svyazinvest's development. We believe that we can present ourselves to the state as a more efficient manager (of Svyazinvest)."
Yelena Lashkina, a spokeswoman for the Communications Ministry, said the government had no intention of selling its Svyazinvest shares.
Yekaterina Nevskaya, a spokeswoman for Comstar, said Comstar would be interested in increasing its Svyazinvest stake to a controlling one "at an attractive price."
The government is currently mapping out another restructuring plan for Svyazinvest, whose privatisation has been delayed by nearly a decade.
Analysts believe the government is likely to negotiate for a non-cash swap of the Svyazinvest stake held by Comstar for Svyazinvest's shares in Moscow fixed-line network MGTS , which is already majority-held by Sistema.
They have also said that Comstar's 26 billion-rouble ($777 million) loan from Sberbank would likely figure in the deal.

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