Telia Takes Share in Russian IT, Telecoms Group

North European telecoms operator Telia
has taken a stake in
First National
, the third largest
telecoms and IT group in Russia.

Telia will be paying 700 million SEK ($81.7 million) for a 29.5 per cent
share in
the holding company First National Holding, the majority shareholder
in Telecominvest.

Hans E. Golteus, executive vice president of Telia, said that
with the deal Telia had a unique opportunity to break new ground
in the Russian market, expanding beyond St. Petersburg and north-west Russia
where Telecominvest currently operates.

“The Telia holding in Telecominvest will lay the groundwork for the
future, enabling the company to establish and run operations in
attractive areas in European Russia, a neighboring market with a
population in excess of 100 million,” said Golteus, adding that this
was potentially the most important growth market in Europe over the
next few decades.

Telia is partnered by Germany’s Commerzbank in its shareholding of
Telecominvest. Other shareholders are St Petersburg telephone
company PTN and the long distance operator SPMMT.

With the acquisition, Telia will be able to participate in the
introduction and expansion of new services, especially mobile
and Internet services.

Telecominvest already runs North-West GSM, the second largest
cellular phone operator in Russia. Telia and Telecominvest have
cooperated in the development of North-West GSM for several years,
and this cooperation has led to Telia’s increased participation in
the parent company.

Telecominvest has around 30 subsidiaries and associated companies,
and has plans to expand its operations to other parts of the country.

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