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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reiman: Alfa May Buy Rostelecom Next Year

BOSTON -- Communications Minister Leonid Reiman said Thursday he has no reservations over a future bid for state-run long-distance telephone monopoly Rostelecom from the likes of the powerful Alfa financial-industrial group.

Rostelecom could begin to dissolve sometime in 2004 after mechanisms are put in place to allow for free competition, Reiman said at an investment conference.

Those mechanisms include universal service and separate accounting for commercial and infrastructural operating services.

A plan for breaking up Rostelecom's monopoly on long-distance calls was expected to be completed by 2005.

However, in response to a question as to whether he would hold reservations if a bid were to ever come from Russian oil to banking consortium Alfa Group, Reiman responded, "No."

"Sometime next year these mechanisms will be available and functional and once that happens we will no longer have any reason to prevent competition in the long distance communications industry," Reiman said.

Alfa Group, which owns a quarter of No. 2 cellular provider Vimpelcom and a contested 25 percent stake in rival Megafon, has not made a bid for Rostelecom, at least publicly, but the industry is waiting to see if the firm will start buying up big ticket items in the telecoms industry, given it is flush with cash.