Private lender Bank Rossiya has reportedly filed applications to buy a 50% stake in mobile operator Tele2 Russia.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, the applications were made through Invinte and ABR Investments, two offshore companies.
Tele2 Russia (Moscow, Russia) is currently owned by VTB Bank (St Petersburg, Russia), Russia’s second-biggest lender, which bought the operator from its Swedish parent company for $3.55 billion in April this year.
However, VTB Bank has long indicated its interest in selling shares in the business, prompting speculation that one of Russia’s big three mobile operators would make an offer, despite opposition from regulatory authorities.
Bank Rossiya (St Petersburg, Russia) had emerged as an interested party more recently, with press reports suggesting it might eventually act on behalf of fixed-line operator Rostelecom.
In June, VTB Bank said this was unlikely to happen.
A sale is likely to take place in the next two weeks, according to press reports, with VTB Bank apparently keen on retaining a share of at least 20% in Tele2 Russia in the long run.