Russian government may buy stake in Sistema's Indian JV: report

The Russian government is weighing plans to acquire additional shares in Shyam TeleServices, the Indian joint venture of Russian holding company Sistema, a Russian business daily reported.

Russia may invest about $686 million (23.7 billion roubles) in new shares of Shyam TeleServices, the Kommersant business daily said, citing a draft of the revised 2009 federal budget and two unnamed sources.

Sistema currently owns 74 per cent in Shyam TeleServices.

The Russian government could buy around 20 per cent in the Indian mobile operator while Sistema will retain a controlling stake, the paper said.

The deal is reported to be part of India's rupee debt settlement scheme with the Russian government, the report quoted unidentified sources as saying.

India owed $1 billion to Russia under a previous rupee trading arrangement with the Soviet Union. Moscow has so far received $700 million that it can spend only on investment projects in India, the newspaper said.

Sistema, controlled by Russian tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov, has a pan-Indian telecom operator licence which it acquired from Shyam TeleServices.