Bank Rossiya Seeks to Buy 50% Stake of Tele2 Russia From VTB

Two Bank Rossiya units applied for antitrust approval to buy as much as 50 percent of mobile-phone operator Tele2 Russia from VTB Group after the state-controlled lender agreed to acquire it for $3.6 billion in March.

Invintel BV asked for the right to buy as much as 40 percent and ABR Management BV applied for 10 percent of Russia’s fourth-largest mobile operator, a Federal Anti-Monopoly Service press official, who asked not to be identified in line with the regulator’s policy, said today by phone. The competition watchdog will decide on the bids within 30 days after the application was submitted.

The companies are affiliated with Bank Rossiya, according to the lender’s website. The bank is 38 percent owned by Yury Kovalchuk, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

VTB First Deputy Presient Yuri Soloviev said Oct. 1 that the state-owned bank planned to divest a “substantial” stake in Tele2 Russia “within weeks.” The sale will help Russia’s second-biggest lender reach its profit target this year, Soloviev said the next day.

OAO Gazprombank and OAO Surgutneftegas may join Bank Rossiya in the deal to acquire Russia’s fourth-largest wireless operator, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Oct. 2, citing unidentified sources.

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