Telia has ended the call

The Scandinavian company sold a stake in MegaFon to Gazprombank.
Telia Group, which invested in Russian telecoms operators since the 1990s, withdrew from its largest local asset - MegaFon: 19% stake in the operator for 60.4 billion rubles. acquired Gazprombank. The deal could begin to consolidate the market on the eve of the development of 5G and the implementation of the "law of Yarovoi", and the bank - to make money on the resale of the asset, analysts say.

The Swedish-Finnish Telia on October 31 reported that it had agreed with Gazprombank that it would sell a 19% stake in MegaFon for 60.4 billion rubles, that is, 514 rubles. for paper, which is 9.8% lower than the closing price of trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange on October 30. The bank "positively assesses the growth potential of MegaFon" and expects the company to strengthen its positions due to operational indicators "and additional growth points, including in the development of banking products," explained there.

The largest shareholder of MegaFon with a 56.3% stake remains the USM holding company Alisher Usmanov, another 20.8% in free float, and 3.9% in the subsidiary of Megafon Investments Cyprus. Member of the Board of Directors of USM Ivan Streshinsky noted that "USM will make every effort to preserve Gazprombank as a strategic investor of MegaFon." According to Telia, the bank agreed not to sell the shares within six months of the purchase, "with a number of exceptions."

Telia decided in 2015 to reduce the presence in Eurasia, focusing on the Scandinavian countries and the Baltics. In early October, the company sold a 6.2% stake in MegaFon as part of a proposal for institutional investors. During the transaction, one share of MegaFon was valued at 585 rubles, and 6.2% - more than 22.5 billion rubles. (about $ 390 million at the exchange rate on the day of the transaction).

Analysts consider two main versions - that Gazprombank plans to resell shares of MegaFon with profit or immediately acts in the transaction in the interests of the main shareholder of the company, if he wanted to increase his share. "USM would probably prefer such a deal, because it allowed to avoid increasing the leverage," the VTB Capital report says. The deal is in the interests of the majority shareholder, says Timur Nigmatullin, an analyst with Otkrytiya Broker. "The main owner would not need to announce a mandatory offer to minority shareholders, which would probably have been necessary if USM increased its stake in MegaFon to 75.3%," he explained.

But in general, all shareholders benefit from the deal: as Timur Nigmatullin points out, when selling a large package, the "liquidity canopy" disappears, formed earlier due to Telia's promise to sell its stake in the open market, which until recently had put pressure on quotes. Indeed, the shares of MegaFon on October 31 rose in price on the Moscow stock exchange, by 20:35 quotes added 1.59%, to 580 rubles. a piece. However, on LSE the cost of securities decreased by 1.32%.

"There is a likelihood that the bank is acting independently and plans to sell its shares to the market later," admits VimpelCom analyst Ivan Kim Ivan Kim. "VTB Capital" sees two options for the fate of a 19% stake in MegaFon: the stake may be of interest to USM, or Gazprombank will sell the shares to the market in the longer term when it recovers.

Analysts agree that the bank can earn on reselling the asset to another profile investor, as was the case with VTB in the resale of Tele2. "On the eve of the construction of a capital-intensive 5G and the implementation of the" Yarovoi law "there are expectations of market consolidation. This deal will give it a start, "Mr. Nigmatullin said. At the same time, the head of operations at the Russian stock market IK "Freedom Finance" Georgy Vashchenko is sure that Gazprombank will not rush to sell, believing that "most likely, it will not happen before the summer of 2018".