MTS and VimpleCom have submitted an open letter to both the chairman and chief executive of Tele2 saying they would jointly offer between $4 billion and $4.25 billion in cash for the Swedish company’s Russian subsidiary.
The offer is a 30 per cent premium on the deal Tele2 previously agreed with VTB, a Russian investment bank, which was $2.4 billion in cash for equity and the taking on of Tele2 Russia’s $1.15 billion in net debt.
Although Tele2 had appeared to sign a ‘legally binding’ and ‘definitive agreement’ with VTB, MTS and VimpelCom – number one and three respectively in Russia’s mobile market – are clearly hoping that they can persuade Tele2 shareholders to force a management rethink.
In the letter, both Andrei Dubovskov, chief executive of MTS, and Jo Lunder, chief executive VimpelCom, wrote: “We remain convinced that we can create vastly superior value for your shareholders and would be prepared to enter into discussions immediately with the aim of being able to conclude a transaction within a short timeframe and hence deliver the sort of transaction certainty we imagine Tele2 would be seeking.”
Dubovskov and Lunder added that because neither MTS nor VimpelCom were permitted to meet with Tele2 financial advisors or management to discuss the potential acquisition, they had to send a letter to Tele2’s management and board of directors.
Perhaps in a move to placate restive shareholders, Tele2 announced clarification today on the VTB transaction terms. The Swedish company points out that Tele2 has the right to half the net cash profits obtained by VTB if it sold any of Tele2 Russia’s shares or assets during the 12 months after the transaction is closed.
The MTS/VimpelCom offer is a separate one from a counter bid mounted last week by A1, a subsidiary of Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa group, on the heels of the VTB announcement.
In related news, a Cyprus-based subsidiary of Altimo (also part of the Alfa group) has made a $3.7 billion offer to buy 100 per cent of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom. Orascom is currently controlled by VimpelCom, in which Altimo owns a 47.85 per cent stake. VimpelCom owns a 51.7 per cent stake in Orascom.