Russia telecoms

By Ben Aris of bne

Russian mobile phone operators just launched their first 4G networks and the biggest cities are due to be covered by the end of this year. The move to better technology has opened a new world of opportunity for Russian Towers, the country’s first, and to date only, independent company leasing out mobile phone base stations to what are now the biggest operators in Europe. Read more

Investors who participated in the controversial MegaFon flotation last year made a good bet buying shares in Russia’s second biggest mobile telephone operator.

After the company reported stellar results for the first quarter of 2013 on Wednesday and announced plans for a whopping dividend, the Moscow-traded stock rose 7.4 per cent, taking the gain since the November IPO to 65 per cent. Great for the IPO investors. Not so great for TeliaSonera, the Nordic group, which sold a hefty slice of its stake at the time. Read more

Alisher UsmanovYou might have thought that after the battle of the billionaires at Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s oligarchs might try to steer clear of each other in the boardroom for a while.

Not Alisher Usmanov (above left). On Friday, Megafon, the phone company he controls, finalised a $1.1bn deal to buy half the largest handset retailer Euroset.

The other half Mikhail Fridmanwill belong to rival operator VimpelCom, where the biggest shareholder is fellow billionaire Mikhail Fridman (below left). Read more

Alisher Usmanov, Russian oligarchWhatever the reason behind Goldman Sachs’ decision to exit as underwriter of Megafon’s forthcoming IPO, the move was a kick in the teeth for the Russian mobile telephone operator run by Alisher Usmanov (pictured) that is now courting potential investors on a road show.

But leaving aside the shock of Goldman’s move, how does Megafon shape up compared to its publicly-listed Russian telecom peers? Read more