AFK Sistema, Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s holding company, plans to consolidate control of the Glonass satellite navigation project as it seeks to compete with the U.S. Global Positioning System.
Sistema plans to acquire 51 percent of Navigation Information Systems, operator of Glonass, for as much as 484 million rubles ($16 million) from its units OAO Sitronics and OAO Concern RTI Systems by the end of the year, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
“The development of the Glonass project and the commercialization of its services are among the top state priorities,” the company said. “Sistema’s board of directors has decided to consolidate the project under one corporation, which will take its operating business to a whole new level.”
Glonass, a Soviet-era project, stalled after funding collapsed along with communism in 1991. In 2006, then President Vladimir Putin told the government to accelerate the program and look for commercial clients.
Russia plans to require cellphone producers such as Nokia OYJ to provide handsets compliant with Glonass for use in the country, Yevtushenkov said in July. Widespread use of Glonass-enabled equipment will start in 2011, he said.