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Russian competition watchdog gives green light for MTS expansion

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service has given service provider MTS a green light to go ahead with a move to acquire Strela Telecom, which operates cable TV and broadband networks in 11 Russian cities in Siberia and the Far East of the country, according to local reports.

According to the ComNews website, the acquisition of Strela Telecom would bring MTS close to matching rival provider ER-Telecom’s broadband base. Strela Telecom, which is estimated to be worth about RUB2 billion and is owned by Elbrus Capital, operates networks in cities including Irkutsk, Tomsk and Khabarovsk.

Approval of a potential acquisition by the Russian competition watchdog is advisory and does not imply that a deal is in train, or even that the company is for sale. MTS could face competition for Strela from ER-Telecom, which in August was granted approval in principle for the acquisition of three of the telco’s operating companies.

Strela’s operating subsidiaries, concentrated in cities with populations of up to 600,000, have about 200,000 customers in total, principally in the cities of Angarsk, Dimitrovgrad, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Ulan-Ude, Usolye-Sibirskoe and Khabarovsk.