June 16, 2011 / 4:52 PM / 9 years ago

Tele2 to invest $300-500 mln annually in Russia

* Sees chances to join next-generation network consortium

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, June 16 (Reuters) - Nordic and emerging markets telecoms firm Tele2 (TEL2b.ST) plans to invest between $300 million and $500 million in Russia annually, chief executive Mats Granryd said on Thursday.

“We’ve got fantastic work in Russia, we’ve now 43 different regions where we are present, we have invested over $3 billion and we are committed to invest somewhere between $300 to $500 million dollars per year going forward,” Granryd told Reuters.

“Russia is a very promising market... As long as we see good growth and as long as we see good pay back we will continue to invest,” he added.

Russia has been the growth engine for Tele2, but some analysts are worried that it risks missing out on increasing data traffic there as it has no 3G or 4G licence allowing for high speed data transfer.

“It’s a long time ... before 4G will be something that people can enjoy. 3G will be ... important in Russia and 2G of course is a base which will be important for many-many years,” Granryd said.

In March, leading Russian mobile phone operators MegaFon, MTS and Vimpelcom together with long-distance call provider Rostelecom agreed to share a new 4G network expected to be ready by 2014.

Tele2 Russian head Dmitry Strashnov said the company could yet take part in the consortium of the four operators.

“We are not part of the consortium, but nobody said we won’t be let in. Naturally, we have chances to join,” he told Reuters.

The 4G consortium earlier said the current participants might consider new entrants once its formation is completed later this year. (Reporting by Maria Plis; writing by Maria Kiselyova)

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