The state agrees to sell Rostelecom

The state agrees to sell Rostelecom


Mkrtich Karapetyan

The Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) of Armenia intends to approve the sale of Rostelecom, a telecommunications operator. Relevant: decision: It is planned to be accepted at the January 19 sitting of the PSRC.

In November, it became known that Molitro Holdings Limited, a company registered in Cyprus, is interested in acquiring Rostelecom, the communication operator operating in Armenia. The shareholders of Molitro Holdings Limited are individual Arman Unanyan with 60% share, տրական “Electric Networks of Armenia” (ENA) with 40% share. The final owner of ENA is Russian billionaire Samvel Karapetyan. The legal entity of Rostelecom is Genci-Alfa CJSC, the shareholder of which in turn is Filor Ventures Limited, a company owned by Russian state-owned enterprises, and Molitro Holdings Limited will buy this company.

CivilNet found out that Rostelecom’s buyers, Arman Unanyan and Samvel Karapetyan, are related to another telecommunications operator, Ucom. Arman Unanyan is a large shareholder of “Ucom”, a person connected with the sons of the former chairman of the State Revenue Committee Gagik Khachatryan – Gurgen, Artyom Khachatryan and his nephew – Aram Khachatryan. Months ago, he was a shareholder in Mastepo Properties Limited, one of the Khachatryans’ Cypriot enterprises. The group of “Galaxy” companies belonging to the Khachatryans had denied that they were related to the purchase of “Rostelecom”. Samvel Karapetyan owned a 10.5% stake in Ucom through his own Fora Bank. It was after these facts that the new buyer of “Rostelecom” were people affiliated with “Ucom”.

As it is mentioned in the decision of the PSRC, “GNC-Alpha” submitted information to the commission about the normal activity of “Rostelecom” and its intention to expand. The Ministry of High Technological Industry and the National Security Service also expressed their position on the deal and did not object to the deal.

Armen Hunanyan, head of the resource management and technological development department of the PSRC Telecommunication Department, told CivilNet that the sale price of GNC-Alfa, according to the company, was $ 25 million. “The new shareholder will invest in the improvement of the existing network and infrastructure, in terms of further expansion. $ 2.5 million will be invested annually for the development of infrastructure, and $ 1.5 million for the maintenance of existing infrastructure,” the PSRC official said. .

December 14 deal agreement: The Commission for the Protection of Competition. In the decision on the concentration, the commission noted that as a result of the deal, “there will be a certain interconnectedness between Ucom and Genci-Alfa companies.” However, the Commission for the Protection of Competition has authorized the concentration between GNC-Alfa, ENA and Arman Unanyan, as the concentration will not lead to public telephony, prevention, restriction and deterioration of economic competition in broadband internet markets.

Rostelecom’s deal will intensify competition among operators

Grigor Saghiyan, President of the Internet Society NGO, recalls that there were rumors about the sale of Rostelecom two or three years ago. “Any telecommunications company, when it enters the market, makes investments and directs its income to repay credit interest. We assume that the debt of “GNC-Alpha” is exactly that – 25-30 million dollars, which is paid. “According to the information I received, that was the deal,” Saghiyan said. The latter emphasizes that the peculiarity of “Rostelecom” is the existence of a large network in the whole territory of the republic, and that network is mostly built along the existing gas pipelines. At the same time, the expert notes that “Rostelecom” is not able to provide mobile services because it does not have frequencies.

Grigor Saghiyan says that this gap can be filled with the help of “Ucom”. “Ucom has mobile frequencies. Even if this is consolidation, it means that one company has a network, the other has a large wired network, և if the two are interconnected, they can achieve greater success. “Their rival is Beeline, and it is MTS, which must inevitably modernize its infrastructure,” Saghiyan said, emphasizing that there will be no market dominance, on the contrary, competition will intensify.

Rostelecom in Armenia Company: Since 2012, it provides broadband internet, smart TV and fixed telephony services. Rostelecom has 92% access to the և 3,000-kilometer network in the cities of Armenia. According to the Commission for Protection of Competition, in 2020 “GNC-Alpha” worked at a loss, and the amount of damage amounted to 3.5 billion drams. The transaction related to “GNC-Alpha” must be made within six months after the permission of the PSRC.



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