Moscow: Russia’s government is considering investing $680 million (€525 million) in an Indian telecoms firm to help out the majority Russian owner, a newspaper reported here Wednesday.
Russia has set aside 23.7 billion rubles “for acquiring shares in the joint venture Shyam Telelink,” now known as Sistema Shyam TeleServices, in its draft budget for 2009, the Kommersant daily said, citing a copy of the document.
A source close to the deal told Kommersant the funds would go to buying a 20% stake in Sistema Shyam TeleServices, which has licences to provide mobile phone services in 22 Indian regions and has over 500,000 subscribers.
The Indian venture is already more than 73% owned by Russia’s Sistema group, which is controlled by billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov and also owns Russia’s largest mobile phone operator, MTS.
Under the agreement being considered, Sistema would retain a majority stake in the Indian venture and Russia would buy the shares as part of a plan to settle New Delhi’s outstanding Soviet-era debt to Moscow, Kommersant said.
The newspaper said Sistema would find it difficult to pursue its Indian expansion plans without extra support due to its hefty debt burden. Many big Russian companies have scaled back investment due to the global credit crunch.