MOSCOW (Reuters) - St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya may buy a 30 percent stake in telecoms operator Tele2 Russia from fellow lender VTB (VTBR.MM) as a first step to selling the company to state-controlled Rostelecom, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Monday.
State-controlled bank VTB bought 100 percent of shares in Nordic telecom Tele2's (TEL2b.ST) Russian business in April for $3.55 billion (2.31 billion pounds). Analysts have said they expect VTB to sell the firm on to another party, with many pointing to Rostelecom, the country's fifth largest telecoms operator, as an option.
Vedomosti, citing sources at two telecoms companies and a state bank, said Bank Rossiya has agreed to buy 30 percent of Tele2 but would be an intermediary rather than the final purchaser of the asset.
It gave no further details of how a further sale would be structured, but cited sources as saying the final buyer could be Rostelecom.
VTB said last week that talks to sell a stake in Tele2 were at an advanced stage with a number of private investors.
Bank Rossiya and VTB declined comment. The paper also quoted a source at VTB as saying that it had not yet decided what percentage of the company it would sell to Bank Rossiya.
Under the terms of the April deal, if VTB sells the asset within a year, it will have to give half the profit to Tele2.
Expectations of a merger between Tele2 Russia and Rostelecom increased last month when Alexander Provotorov, a former CEO of Rostelecom who had backed the idea of a merger between the pair, was appointed to run Tele2 Russia.
Reporting By Megan Davies and Oksana Kobzeva; editing by Patrick Graham