Two companies representing private lender Bank Rossiya have filed an application with Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) to buy a 50 per cent stake in Tele2 Russia, according to Interfax.
The filings were made by offshore companies Invinte and ABR Investments, reported the news agency.
An FAS official confirmed to Reuters that two companies had applied but could not name them or the entity they represent.
State-controlled bank VTB, which bought Tele2′s Russian business in April in a deal worth $3.55 billion, has long signalled its intention to sell equity in Russia’s fourth-largest operator.
Bank Rossiya has been in the frame as a Tele2 Russia buyer for some time, accompanied by local press speculation that it would act as an intermediary for fixed-line operator Rostelecom rather than be the final purchaser. VTB has claimed, however, that such an outcome is unlikely.
VTB, according to Reuters, says a sale might take place within the next couple of weeks but the bank intends to remain a large minority shareholder In Tele2 Russia with a share not less than 20 per cent.
The bank declined to comment on potential buyers.