TeliaSonera in talks over MegaFon’s future

The future of Russia’s second-largest operator MegaFon is currently under discussion by a number of firms, with Scandinavian group TeliaSonera the most recent party to confirm its involvement.

The operator group is currently holding talks with Altimo and AF Telecom, which it says “have so far not led to any agreement, but if and when an agreement is reached, TeliaSonera will present information in accordance with the relevant stock exchange rules.”

The three firms all have a stake in MegaFon, with TeliaSonera holding 44%, AF Telecom owning 31% and Altimo 25%. It had been suggested that Altimo head Mikhail Fridman could sell his stake to AF Telecom boss Alisher Usmanov.

TeliaSonera’s recent policy has been to “divest non-core minority interests” such as Cambodian operator Smart Mobile, in which it recently sold its 18.6% stake. Conversely, it also aims to “be a strong majority owner in core holdings”, having taken steps to increase its stake in Nepalese operator Ncell.

TeliaSonera has indirectly owned 60.4% of Ncell since 2010 after an initial investment in 2008, and is now reportedly aiming to increase this by 12.4%. According to the group’s president and CEO Lars Nyberg, TeliaSonera is looking to increase its ownership as “we typically have 50 percent, 60 percent ownership, but we have 100 percent of the work.”

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