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Sistema Gains on Possible Sale of Comstar Stake

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May 4 (Bloomberg) -- AFK Sistema, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s holding company, gained the most in five months in Moscow trading after saying it may sell its stake in OAO Comstar United Telesystems to OAO Mobile TeleSystems. 
Sistema jumped 16 percent on the Micex Stock Exchange, the biggest gain since Nov. 27. Moscow-based Sistema will decide on a potential purchase of Comstar, a Russian phone and Internet company it controls, by Mobile TeleSystems by the end of the second quarter, Sistema Chief Executive Officer Leonid Melamed said April 29. Mobile TeleSystems, known as MTS, is also controlled by Sistema. 
“If Sistema decides to sell its stake in Comstar to MTS, it could raise about $900 million based on the current market value, which would allow it to reduce net debt,” said Anna Lepetukhina, an analyst at Troika Dialog in Moscow, who has a “hold” recommendation on the stock. 
Last week, Sistema reported its first quarterly loss since at least 2005, according to Bloomberg data. Sistema’s net debt rose 19 percent to $8.67 billion as of Dec. 31. Sistema’s holdings range from telecommunications to retail, real estate and tourism. 
Sistema rose 1.36 rubles to 10.047 rubles, the highest since Oct. 7. 
The potential takeover or a merger of the two companies “would enable MTS to branch out into the fixed broadband sphere and challenge OAO VimpelCom, which last year acquired broadband operator Golden Telecom Inc.,” Philip Townsend and Sergey Vasin, analysts at Moscow-based brokerage Metropol, wrote in a note today. “Comstar could develop as a regional operator, something it currently lacks the cash to do.”

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