11 Nov 2009 11:03

Putin supports basic option for reorganizing Svyazinvest - newspapers

MOSCOW. Nov 11 (Interfax) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin supports the basic option for reorganizing Svyazinvest, which has already been approved by the board of directors of the state telecommunications holding, the business dailies Vedomosti and Kommersant reported on Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.

The plan calls for merging the interregional communications operators with Rostelecom , as proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who chairs the government commission on transportation and communications.

The reorganization under the basic option would be completed by May 2011. An alternative scenario begin considered would see the reorganization carried out in two phases: merging Svyazinvest with Rostelecom and only merging the regional operators after 18 months.

Vedomosti also reported, citing sources close to Alisher Usmanov, that his company Telecom Holding is in talks to exchange the stake in mobile operator MegaFon for shares in the reorganized Rostelecom. Telecom Holding opposes a proposal by Altimo, the Alfa Group subsidiary that owns a blocking stake in MegaFon, to merge the company with Turkish Turkcell, in which Altimo and Scandinavian TeliaSonera are shareholders.

TeliaSonera, the biggest shareholder in MegaFon, has already said it opposes Altimo's proposal. Moreover, according to analyst valuations, MegaFon is worth more than the post-merger Rostelecom would be. Usmanov would receive a bigger stake in the new telecom holding than his 31.1% stake in MegaFon. Including the stakes that minority shareholders in Svyazinvest subsidiaries would receive in the new holding, the combined stake held by private shareholders would be well above controlling.