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Russia delays $677m loan to Sistema's Indian unit

13 января 2010

The Russian government has delayed its planned $677 million capital injection for Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd., the Indian mobile operator controlled by Russian conglomerate OAO AFK Sistema, a Sistema spokesman said Tuesday.

Sistema Shyam had planned to sell the government a 20% stake before the end of 2009, to pay for new base stations as it expands its subscriber base of 3 million.

Sistema says the Russian government's cash injection would really be a "financing arrangement" as it includes a pledge by Sistema to buy the shares in five years' time.

Russia's investment had been written into the country's 2009 budget, but it still required the approval of three ministries before the end of the year.

The country's Economy Ministry hasn't yet approved it, and a Sistema spokesman said that if the government still wants to go ahead with the investment, it will either have to amend the 2010 budget or involve a state-controlled bank, such as VEB.

The Economy Ministry was unable to comment immediately.

Sistema, which entered the Indian market two years ago, had hoped that the Russian government would invest funds it currently holds at India's central bank.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has held rupees on deposit in India. Sistema says the government is required to invest this cash in Indian projects, and these were the funds allocated in the 2009 budget.

Sistema owns 73.71% of Sistema Shyam, while India's Shyam Group holds 23.79%. The remainder is held by minority shareholders. The Indian unit has 3 million users on its code division multiple access technology.

"As we understand, the decision on the investment into SSTL by the Russian Federation has been moved to the next government meeting, as it is undergoing due process for such investment," a spokesperson for the Indian unit said in an e-mailed statement in New Delhi.

Источник: Total Telecom

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