The Scandinavian company will sell the remaining 19% of the Russian mobile operator Gazprombank for 60.4 billion rubles
Photo: TASS, Artem Korotaev
– Norman theory of the origin of Russian Telecom loses its last adherents. The process initiated by the owners of Tele2 and Norway’s Telenor continued, albeit unexpectedly, but naturally made the Swedish-Finnish Telia. Holding, standing at the origins of “Megaphone”, on Tuesday announced a complete exit from the capital of the company. Now Scandinavian motifs – the heritage of myths and legends of the Russian telecommunications industry, not its present.
Farewell to Russia
Farewell to Russia, Telia began to prepare gradually, unlike Telenor, said bluntly about the upcoming sale of shares in Vimpelcom. At the end of 2015, the company announced its intention to focus on developing business in the Nordic and Baltic States and exit in the macro-region “Eurasia”, which includes “daughters” the operator in the former Soviet Union and Nepal. However, regarding the “Megaphone” of such messages was not.
But a month ago, Telia sold on the stock exchange 6.2% stake in MegaFon for 585 RUB over the paper, and by the end of October decided to get rid of the remaining 19%, sold the stake to Gazprombank . The transaction price (60.4 billion rubles, 514 RUB/share) corresponds to the discount at around 10% over the closing price of trading on the “Moscow stock exchange” on Monday.
Prior to these transactions, Telia was the second largest shareholder in MegaFon, all she belonged to 25,17% of the shares of the company.
Interviewed by Interfax analysts generally called the deal “surprising” from the point of view that Telia was able to quickly and entirely to sell a large block to a single investor. Another Scandinavian holding company, Telenor, left the capital VEON (formerly Russia) for two years and in smaller tranches.
Telia in his message reminded that Gazprombank is under the sectoral sanctions the EU and the United States, noting that the limitation mode, the transaction does not violate.
Strategic investor or realtor
The largest shareholder “the Megaphone” – holding businessman Alisher Usmanov’s USM Group, he owns a controlling stake in the operator (56,32%) stated that relies on the participation of Gazprombank in the capital of the mobile operator as a strategic investor. Moreover, USM “will make every effort to save the Bank group as a strategic investor of the operator,” reads the statement of the holding.
In the message of the Gazprombank noted that together with the other shareholders of the company will be to develop a common approach in relation to long-term strategy of “MegaFon” and mechanisms for its successful implementation.
Under the terms of the agreement, the deal with Telia provides for a six-month lock-up period, during which Gazprom has pledged not to sell shares of “MegaFon” with a few exceptions.
However, analysts doubt that Gazprombank as the strategist for “Megaphone”.
“Gazprombank is the financial investor and, in our opinion, is acting on behalf of strategic. I think that a strategic investor can be USM Holding, which already owns 56% stake in the company” – the analyst “VTB the Capital” Ivan Kim. “Gazprombank is primarily a financial investor, it is not a strategic,” agrees senior analyst of Raiffeisenbank Sergei Libin.
In addition, analysts are not confident in the long-term interest of Gazprombank to the asset. Among the possible reasons of this transaction, they called a potential resale package USM or full or partial sale of the package. In General, the purchase of the operating company for the same amount unusual for a commercial Bank, questioned the experts.
“Discount of 10% approximately corresponds to the rate of the interbank market for the year, obviously the package is acquired with the far horizon from six months to a year, but no more. With very high probability Gazprombank will not stay more than a year. It is not the core area for the Bank. In addition, the banking sector has the opportunity to earn on its core business, Bank margins are high now. It is obvious that this is a temporary situation,” – says analyst “Discovery Broker” Timur Nigmatullin.
However, in the case that the Gazprombank intends to do to stay in the capital “the Megaphone” more than a year, it is obvious that the Bank will be interested in the big dividend that does not fit in with the recent statement of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company Ivan streshenskogo representing the interests of a group of USM. He said in an interview with “Kommersant” that “to the Megaphone” it is necessary to invest in development, not to pay dividends, thereby causing a drop in prices of the operator shortly before the announcement of the deal, Gazprombank with Telia.
Where to go the Scandinavians
The Swedish company Telia and Finnish Sonera was among the first investors, “MegaFon” in 2001, when together they controlled about 43% of the operator. Later, the businesses of the two companies were merged into a single structure. In a series of joint conflict TeliaSonera came with a share of 35.6%, and the company’s largest shareholder was Alisher Usmanov. In November 2012, MegaFon held an IPO, after which the share of TeliaSonera decreased to 25.17%.
Foreign companies come to Russia in search of growth, which on their own markets could not be achieved, and the withdrawal of such oldest player like Telia is a natural step in the conditions of saturation of the Russian market, says the analyst of “URALSIB” Konstantin Belov. “Now the period of growth of the Russian Telecom, as Telecom and other emerging markets, has come together with the growth of mobile penetration and a slowdown in revenue growth, which means that large foreign investors – the inevitable,” he added.
Another Scandinavian holding Telenor has recently completed the process of withdrawing from the capital VEON, the parent company of the Russian operator “Vympelcom” .