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Russian billionaire to enter Lattelecom takeover talks

Jan 13, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

One of the worlds richest men is set to enter take over talks with Latvian state owned telecoms company, Lattelecom. 

Latvian Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts revealed that Russia's largest financial company, Sistema will enter talks over privatization of the state-owned stake in Lattelecom, Latvian State Television reports.

However, the government has not yet made the decision on privatization of the companies shares.

The state is nevertheless prepared for talks with prospective Russian investors. Minority shareholder TeliaSonera will also be invited to participate in the talks.

Sistema is the largest private financial corporation in Russia, its assets were worth approximately 35 billion euros in 2012.

Vladimir Yevtushenko, who holds the controlling stake in Sistema, is ranked 175th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine.

The letter acknowledges Sistema's interest in the telecommunications business in Latvia and requests that a meeting be organized with the company's representatives in order to discuss privatization of Lattelecom state-owned shares.

The letter does not say how much Russian investors would be ready to pay for "Lattelecom"; the price could be decided after the company's representatives perform an audit at "Lattelecom". Previously experts said that "Lattelecom" was worth approximately 300 million euros in 2013.

The Economy Ministry has forwarded Rudashevskiy's letter to Latvian Privatization Agency (LPA), which officially holds the state-owned shares in Lattelecom.  According to LPA senior official Vladimirs Loginovs, the agency's reply to Sistema says privatization of Lattelecom is not on the government's agenda, nevertheless, Latvian side is prepared to hold talks with Russian companies as well as with any other prospective investors.

Likewise, LPA is ready to organize Russian representatives' meeting with TeliaSonera, which would have the right of first refusal on "Lattelecom" shares should the government decide that the company must be privatized.

TeliaSonera has no information about Sistema's offer, but it is still willing to acquire both Lattelecom and LMT.

Prime Minister designate Laimdota Straujuma believes that the possible privatization of Lattelecom should be considered after the Saeima elections in the fall this year.

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