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Sberbank offers $588 million loan to help Megafon take control of Mail.ru Group

The bank will also lower interest rates on three existing credit lines amounting to 97.2 billion roubles.

Feb 14, 2017
MegaFon‘s plan to acquire a majority stake in Mail.Ru Group, Russia’s main Internet group, seems to materialize with Sberbank opening a credit line of 35 billion rubles ($588.62 million at the current exchange rate) until 2024 to help finance the transaction.

The announcement was made following a meeting of MegaFon’s board of directors today and approval by the antimonopoly authority on Feb. 6.

In December, MegaFon, a leading telecom operator, announced its plans to acquire 11.5 million Class A shares and 21.9 million ordinary shares of Mail.Ru Group,accounting for approximately 63.8% of the voting shared of Mail.Ru Group.

The transaction will amount to $640 million, including $540 million to be settled when the deal is sealed and another $100 million to be paid one year later.

The shares will be sold by New Media and Technology Investment LP, New Media Technologies Capital Partners Limited and Ardoe Finance Limited. These entities are part of the USM, a holding company controlled by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

However, after the transaction is completed, Usmanov will still keep an indirect interest in Mail.Ru Group, since USM holds more than 56% of MegaFon.

Organizing synergies

The acquisition plan comes as both companies are developing collaboration to jointly develop new products and organize "significant synergies."

For example, the two companies have agreed to launch a special offer for Vkontakte’s mobile users. The new service, branded ‘VK Mobile,’ will benefit from the infrastructure of Megafon and its affiliate Scartel.

Vkontakte (VK.com), Russia’s leading social network far ahead of Facebook, is a property of Mail.Ru Group.

Mail.Ru Group and MegaFon have also teamed up to jointly develop predictive data analysis tools, aiming to improve user segmentation.

Even after the potential acquisition, however, the two companies will "continue operating as separate entities on an arms-length basis, with both management teams dedicated to preserving each other’s corporate culture and governance, ensuring continuity of operating and product development activities, and focusing co-operation on areas of mutual strategic and economic benefits," the companies announced in a previous statement.

Serving half of the population

Founded more than 20 years ago, MegaFon provides mobile services in all regions of Russia, as well as in the Republic of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Tajikistan. Last year the group claimed a total subscriber base of more than 76.8 million people — more than half of Russia’s population — as of late 2015. More than 53% of these subscribers have access to 4G services.

The MegaFon Group also includes:
  • MegaFon Retail, which operates a large outlet network selling telecom services and equipment, and customer service;
  • MegaLabs, which provides innovative products and services and develops long-term projects;
  • NETBYNET, acquired in 2011, which offers broadband Internet access and landline telecommunications;
  • Yota, acquired in 2012, an operator providing high speed Internet (2G/3G/4G), voice calling, and SMS services.
The group’s shares have been traded on the stock exchange in Moscow and London since 2012.