Bloomberg News

Golden Telecom in Talks to Buy All Corbina Shares

February 07, 2008

Golden Telecom Inc. (GLDN:US), the Russian phone company that's agreed to be acquired by OAO VimpelCom, began talks to buy the stake it doesn't already own in Corbina Telecom Group instead of selling the shares to the public.

Golden Telecom, the owner of 51 percent in Moscow-based broadband Internet provider Corbina, is negotiating with Inure Enterprises Ltd. to buy some or all of its 49 percent holding, Moscow-based Golden Telecom said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing late yesterday.

Such a transaction would be instead of Golden Telecom's ``current contractual commitment to proceed with an initial public offering of at least 10 percent'' of Corbina by the end of 2008, the filing said.

VimpelCom, Russia's second-largest mobile-phone operator, is buying Golden Telecom for $4.3 billion to make it the nation's first integrated wireless phone and fixed-line provider. VimpelCom Chief Executive Officer Alexander Izosimov said last month he will talk to shareholders of Corbina ``to avoid costly listings'' for share sales that were planned before the takeover.

Golden Telecom may have to raise debt to finance the deal, Moscow-based UniCredit Aton said today in a note to investors. The remaining stake may cost as much as $480 million, it said.

Transaction History

Golden Telecom last year paid (GLDN:US) about $162 million for 51 percent of ZAO Cortec and its subsidiaries that jointly operate as the Corbina Telecom Group. Russian oil and metals billionaire Viktor Vekselberg and investor Alexander Mamut own the rest of Cortec through their company Inure.

Mamut was not available for comment when Bloomberg News contacted his Moscow office by phone today.

Golden Telecom also said it agreed with an affiliate of Altimo, a telecommunications subsidiary of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, for it to act as financial adviser on the potential Corbina transaction. Altimo's affiliate, ABH Financial Ltd., may receive up to $4.2 million if the purchase is completed, according to the filing.

Altimo holds 26.6 percent in Golden Telecom and 44 percent in VimpelCom. Altimo agreed to sell its Golden Telecom stake to VimpelCom, Golden Telecom said yesterday in a separate filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at lpronina@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Klemming at at lklemming@bloomberg.net


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