A1, an investment arm of Russia’s Alfa Group, has made a counter offer to buy Tele2 Russia after the Swedish company appeared to have already agreed a sale of its Russian operations to VTB Group, an investment bank.
The A1 offer on the table, reports Reuters, is between $3.6 billion and $4 billion in cash.
That trumps the terms of the VTB deal. The Russian investment bank agreed to pay $2.4 billion in cash for equity, and then to take on Tele2 Russia’s $1.15 billion in net debt.
The A1 offer, however, would wipe out the net debt of Tele2 Russia.
The Alfa Group, run by billionaire Mikhail Fridman, has also expressed interest in acquiring the remaining assets of Tele2. Fridman already owns a stake in VimpelCom, Russia’s third-biggest telecoms firm.
Lars Torstensson, a Tele2 spokesman quoted by Bloomberg, appeared to downplay Alfa’s chances (but not rule them out entirely).
“VTB is a very serious purchaser that gave us a straightforward deal that was easy to close,” he said. “We won’t comment on Alfa.”
Tele2 has been rumoured to exit Russia for some time given it has neither a 3G nor 4G licence there.
Tele2 Russia had net sales of SEK12.9 billion ($1.9 billion) and an EBITDA of SEK4.7 billion in 2012. VTB’s purchase terms are equivalent to an EBITDA multiple of 4.9 based on Tele2 Russia’s financial results last year.
Tele2’s Russian operations had 22.7 million customers by the end of 2012.