Vtb To Sell Tele2 Russia Stake, Fuelling Consolidation Talk

Russia’s Medvedev fires space agency chief

VTB had said it was not looking to hold the asset for the long term. The deal could be worth about $2 billion including debt, according to the valuation VTB gave for Tele2 Russia in its last financial report. That valuation – as of the end of June – showed the asset rose around 20 percent in value in the first three months of ownership. VTB declined to comment on the price. A tie-up between Tele2 Russia and the mobile arm of state-controlled Rostelecom (RTKM.MM) – the country’s fifth largest mobile operator – has long been speculated. The Vedomosti newspaper reported last month that Rostelecom had hired JPMorgan (JPM.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise on a possible joint venture with Tele2 Russia. Rostelecom’s chief executive Sergei Kalugin was quoted as saying last week that the company could put its mobile assets under the management of an unspecified partner to focus on cable TV in a strategy shift. Analysts speculated Tele2’s new shareholders might look to set up a joint venture with Rostelecom. The new investors declined to comment on Friday. Tele2 only has 2G, voice-focused licenses, while Rostelecom has both 3G and 4G permits which allow it to provide fast mobile internet services. “If Tele2 gets 3G licenses it will be able to compete with the Big Three in offering mobile internet … but it will of course take time,” said Lepetukhina, adding that launching in Moscow would be crucial for its success.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin MOSCOW | Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:41pm BST MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the country’s space agency (Roskosmos) chief Vladimir Popovkin on Thursday, three months after the latest botched satellite launch. “I hope that a number of problems that we have unfortunately seen in Roskosmos’ activity will be overcome with your appointment,” Medvedev told Popovkin’s successor to the post, former deputy defence minister Oleg Ostapenko. Popovkin, a former senior defence ministry official, denied media reports earlier this year saying that had been hospitalised after a drunken brawl in the Roskosmos office. Russia lost roughly $200 million after a rocket carrying satellites crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan in July. Medvedev at the time said that Russia had lost 10 satellites in seven failed launches in less than a year. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees defence industry in the cabinet, wrote on Twitter that Popovkin would be given a senior post in Russia’s space industry. The practice to rotate officials regardless of their failures dates back to the Soviet political system dominated by the Communist Party, operating as a one-class club with internal disagreements rarely coming to light. Russia is increasing spending on space and plans to send a probe to the moon in 2015. But the pioneering Russian programme that put the first man in space in 1961 has been plagued in recent years by setbacks, including abortive satellite launches and a failed attempt to send a probe to a moon of Mars. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

There have been structural improvements, but the specific corporate governance scandals this year have been striking, Westman, whose firm manages about $4 billion and is the worlds largest Russia-focused money manager, said today by phone from London . Its the worst year since after the crisis in 2009. Prosperity and investors including Templeton Emerging Markets Group and Allianz Investments are contesting a move by OAO Rosneft (ROSN) , the worlds biggest publicly traded oil producer, not to buy out minority shareholders in oil producer TNK-BP. President Vladimir Putins government is struggling to lure foreign investors to counter capital outflows due to corporate governance disputes this year at TNK-BP, OAO Pharmstandard, Russias biggest drugmaker, and OAO Uralkali, the worlds largest potash producer. Russias benchmark Micex Index (MOSBIRZ) trades at the cheapest levels of all major emerging-market indexes. 27 after Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin said his company may buy back minority shareholders at a premium. Until then, Sechin had resisted minority investors demands, saying at Rosnefts annual general meeting in April that Rosneft was not a charity fund. Disappointing Offer Rosneft has approved a buyout at 67 rubles a common share and 55 rubles for preferred shares in RN Holding. Sberbank CIB analysts said the offer was disappointing for investors as they estimated Rosneft paid about $3.70 a share, or about 120 rubles a share, to London-based BP Plc (BP/) and a group of Russian billionaires in a $55 billion cash-and-share deal. Westman said Prosperity hasnt received the offer. We will want to see a buyout offer that is higher, but some investors had given up and didnt think we get anything, he said. Alexander Branis, chief investment officer at Moscow-based Prosperity, advises the Kremlin on corporate governance and will shortly submit proposals on mandatory offers for minority shareholders, according to Westman. As part of our work trying to make Moscow into an international finance center, we are coming up with proposals to strengthen the hand of minority shareholders, he said, without going into specific details. Hermitage Capital Hermitage Capital, once Russia s largest portfolio investor, shut its Russia fund in March as its founder, Bill Browder, was being sued for libel in London and tried in absentia for tax evasion in Moscow. Hermitage, a shareholder activist fund that American-born Browder started in 1996 with the late billionaire Edmond Safra, peaked at more than $4 billion in 2005, according to Browder.