That valuation – as of the end of June – showed the asset rose around 20 percent in value in the first three months of ownership. VTB declined to comment on the price. A tie-up between Tele2 Russia and the mobile arm of state-controlled Rostelecom (RTKM.MM) – the country’s fifth largest mobile operator – has long been speculated. The Vedomosti newspaper reported last month that Rostelecom had hired JPMorgan (JPM.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise on a possible joint venture with Tele2 Russia. Rostelecom’s chief executive Sergei Kalugin was quoted as saying last week that the company could put its mobile assets under the management of an unspecified partner to focus on cable TV in a strategy shift. Analysts speculated Tele2’s new shareholders might look to set up a joint venture with Rostelecom. The new investors declined to comment on Friday. Tele2 only has 2G, voice-focused licenses, while Rostelecom has both 3G and 4G permits which allow it to provide fast mobile internet services. “If Tele2 gets 3G licenses it will be able to compete with the Big Three in offering mobile internet … but it will of course take time,” said Lepetukhina, adding that launching in Moscow would be crucial for its success. CONNECTIONS Bank Rossiya, which is part-owned and chaired by Yuri Kovalchuk, an old acquaintance of President Vladimir Putin, said last week it was considering taking part in a deal for a stake in Tele2 Russia. A spokesman for the St Petersburg-based bank confirmed it planned to participate in the deal with VTB, saying the state competition regulator had given it permission.
In North and Central America and the Caribbean, Honduras (4-3-2) won 1-0 at home against Costa Rica (4-2-3) on Jerry Bengtsons 65th-minute goal and ensured itself of no worse than fourth place and a playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand. Mexico faced a must-win match at home against Panama with both teams at 1-2-5 and El Tri trailing on goal difference. The nine European group winners qualify, and eight of nine second-place teams advance to playoffs, which will include Croatia and Sweden. England (5-0-4) maintained its Group H lead, beating Ukraine 4-1 at Wembley on second-half goals by Wayne Rooney, Andros Townsend and Daniel Sturridge plus an own goal by Branko Boskovic on a mis-hit clearance attempt. England would clinch its fifth straight berth by beating visiting Poland on Tuesday. Russia (7-2) won 4-0 at Luxembourg as Aleksandr Samedov, Viktor Faizulin, Denis Glushakov and Alexander Kerzhakov scored and would win Group F with a tie Tuesday at Azerbaijan. Portugal (5-1-3) allowed Eden Ben Basats 85th-minute goal in a 1-1 tie against visiting Israel and trails by three points but is assured at least second place. Bosnia-Herzegovina (7-1-1) defeating visiting Liechtenstein 4-1 as Edin Dzeko scored twice and Zvjezdan Misimovic and Vedad Ibisevic had one goal each, putting itself in position to clinch Tuesday with a win at Lithuania. Greece also has 22 points but with a vastly inferior goal difference after beating visiting Slovakia on Martin Skrtels own goal in the 44th minute. Defending champion Spain (5-0-2) beat Belarus 2-1 on second-half goals by Xavi Hernandez and Alvaro Negredo and opened a three-point lead in Group I over idle France (4-1-2). Spain closes at home Tuesday against Georgia. Robin van Persie scored three goals as the Netherlands routed Hungary 4-1.
Lithuanian PM: Russia Trying to Reassert Power
For both Brussels and Moscow, the real prize is Ukraine, a nation of 46 million with relatively strong industrial and agricultural sectors. Russia has imposed tremendous pressure on Ukraine not to sign a strategic partnership deal with the EU, saying Moscow would retaliate with trade restrictions that could push the ex-Soviet republic toward default. In August, Russia began a series of rigorous border control checks that caused crossing delays and millions of dollars of losses for Ukrainian businessmen. Other nations have not escaped Russia’s wrath, either. In September, Russia imposed a ban on imports of Moldovan wine after that country’s leaders expressed a willingness to sign a partnership deal with the EU at the same summit in Lithuania. Finally, on Monday, Russia’s top consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, issued a decree barring the import of a range of Lithuanian dairy products. It’s a ban that hurts many producers in the country. “Some of those diary companies sell 80 percent of their production to Russia,” the Lithuanian prime minister told AP. “Today milk. Tomorrow meat. Then what?” Lithuania, a country of 3 million people, has appealed to the EU to intervene, and Butkevicius said he hopes the dairy companies’ losses will be covered by EU funds. He denied speculation that Lithuania might react by imposing restrictions on Russian goods and passengers moving across its territory.