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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sistema Eyes All of Svyazinvest

APSistema's Yevtushenkov, center, visiting the London Stock Exchange on Monday.
LONDON -- Sistema plans to bid for the whole of national telecoms holding company Svyazinvest, Sistema's President Vladimir Yevtushenkov said on Monday, in a deal he expects to be worth $3 billion to $4 billion.

"We will try to buy the whole of Svyazinvest," said Yevtushenkov on the sidelines of a regional business conference in London.

"After that we will decide how or if we can divide it and sell separate parts, or we can make a restructuring to try to run the whole."

Svyazinvest controls seven regional telecommunications firms, dominant Moscow fixed-line service MGTS and long-distance monopoly Rostelekom.

Yevtushenkov, who was left with 65 percent of Sistema after its listing in London last week, said: "It is my opinion Svyazinvest is worth $3 billion and maybe more, $3.5 billion or even $4 billion -- it is difficult to say. It depends on how much competition" there is.

Sistema has said that it needed the funds from the listing, which turned out to be the biggest Russian flotation ever, to participate in the privatization of Svyazinvest, which the government plans to sell this year.

In October of last year, IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman put the value of 75 percent minus one share of Svyazinvest at $2 billion.

When quizzed on whether Sistema planned to issue a eurobond Yevtushenkov said: "Not yet. Difficult to say because we want to buy a big telecommunications company in a country of the former Soviet Union. It depends on the government of this country because we don't know how exactly we can manage to do a deal this year."

Two weeks ago, government officials said that all ministries had agreed on the text of a presidential decree to privatize Svyazinvest, and that 75 percent minus one share in the company was likely to be sold in the second half of the year.

U.S. financier George Soros bought 25 percent plus one share in Svyazinvest in 1997 for $1.875 billion, but later called it his worst-ever investment, and last year sold out to businessman Len Blavatnik for $625 million.

Sistema was trading 3.75 percent higher in London at $18 a share by early afternoon.