19 Sep 2023 12:32

Rostelecom becomes sole owner of Aurora OS after buying 25% from Berezkin - paper

MOSCOW. Sept 19 (Interfax) - Rostelecom , Russia's national telecom provider has consolidated 100% of Open Mobile Platform LLC (OMP), the developer of the Aurora mobile operating system, after exercising an option to buy out 25% from a company controlled by businessman Grigory Berezkin, national daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday, citing IT market sources.

The change of ownership has not yet been entered into the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, which still shows Rostelecom as owning 75% of Open Mobile Platform and the other 25% being owned by Open Mobile Platform Development Center LLC, which is owned by Olga Berezkina, the sister of RBC and ESN Group co-owner Grigory Berezkin.

But a source close to a party in the deal confirmed that Berezkin has divested his stake in OMP and the "agreement on exercising the option has already been approved by the board of directors," Kommersant said.

Rostelecom bought 75% of OMP and Votron LLC, which is also developing the Aurora OS, in 2018. In December 2019, Rostelecom's board voted to increase the company's ownership of these firms to 100%. The company told Interfax at the time that the decision was related to the signing of option agreements to buy out the stakes in two years.

The paper said that under the terms of the option Rostelecom could buy out the stake in the period from March 2021 to March 2028 at the seller's discretion for at least 606 million rubles. Market insiders estimate the deal was worth about 1 billion rubles.

Rostelecom said that the deal to buy OMP was originally concluded in a way that allowed the partner to sell the remaining stake at any time, the paper reported.

"We are actively developing the OS and will continue to invest in the creation of a national mobile ecosystem, consolidating manufacturers and developers around Aurora," the company said.

ESN said the option and its realization were part of a deal with Rostelecom that was mandated by a directive from the Federal Property Agency.

Berezkin was hit by European Union sanctions in April 2022, but the sanctions against him were lifted in September 2023 after he filed a lawsuit in the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg. A source at an electronics maker said Berezkin sold the stake in OMP because it could be regarded "as tied to the state," the paper reported.