Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

A member of staff works in a MegaFon retail outlet in Moscow on September 4, 2012.

MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS

MegaFon, Russia's second-largest mobile phone operator, has asked its local regulator for permission to list its shares in London for what would be the world's biggest initial public offering since Facebook Inc.'s in May.

The company, in which Russia's richest man Alisher Usmanov took control in a complex deal in April, is looking to float a 20 per cent stake that could be worth as much as $4-billion, sources familiar with the matter have said.

The float would offer investors exposure to a firm that has positioned itself aggressively for the rollout of high-speed mobile data services loved by iPhone-toting urban Russians, and is backed by the impeccable Kremlin connections of Mr. Usmanov, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes magazine at $18.1-billion.

Story continues below advertisement

In a filing on Tuesday, MegaFon requested permission from Russia's financial markets regulator to list up to 123 million shares abroad, equivalent to 19.9 per cent.

"We are considering the possibility of holding an IPO," MegaFon said in response to questions about the filing. "The timing of the public offering will depend on market conditions."

The dismal post-IPO performance of social network Facebook's $16-billion dollar offering has hit investor appetite for new stock offerings, though global stock markets have drifted higher through the summer, boosting the confidence of investors and new issuers alike.

"MegaFon's IPO is likely to be one of the few positive Russian stories due to the combination of healthy business growth and good corporate governance," said Tibor Bokor, a London-based analyst at ING.

If MegaFon gets the deal away, it would be the largest IPO by a Russian company since state bank VTB raised $8-billion in 2007. Notable Russian IPOs since include aluminum group UC Rusal's $2.2-billion listing in Hong Kong in 2010 and internet search engine Yandex's $1.4-billion float on the United States Nasdaq exchange in May 2011.

Waiting in the wings is Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, after forecast-beating quarterly results last week raised the likelihood that the often-delayed sale of a 7.6 per cent state holding worth $5-billion would go ahead.

Mid-sized lender Promsvyazbank has also sought clearance from the regulator to float up to 25 per cent in London in a deal managers have said could raise $1-billion.

Story continues below advertisement

DEFINING DEAL

A MegaFon IPO would be a defining deal for Mr. Usmanov, an Uzbek-born metals and mining magnate who has shown a deft touch as a tech investor and made 10 times his money investing in Facebook stock three years before it listed.

One source close to the deal said a launch of the IPO is probably three to four weeks away. MegaFon CEO Ivan Tavrin signalled in June that an IPO was some way off due to difficult market conditions.

Sources have previously said Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had been appointed to lead the IPO. Other banks including Sberbank, Citi, Credit Suisse and VTB are also involved, sources have said.

NEXT GENERATION

Investors will be keen to buy a slice of the fast-growing company, analysts said, which comes as Russian mobile operators jostle for position in the race to sell fourth-generation mobile services to the public.

Story continues below advertisement

MegaFon has been riding that wave. In July, Mr. Usmanov increased his influence in Russia's telecoms sector by combining his MegaFon stake into a holding company he controls that will own state-backed next-generation operator Scartel.

MegaFon was one of four companies to win a fourth-generation licence in July, allowing it to provide fast wireless internet services using the LTE service, which is expected to become the global industry standard. It launched LTE in Moscow in May, using Scartel's network.

"MegaFon looks attractive because it is the leader on the Russian mobile internet market," Sergei Libin, Moscow-based analyst at Raiffeisen.

MegaFon is also aiming to expand its retail presence in Russia. The company is in negotiations to buy a stake in Russian cellphone retailer Euroset, two sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday. Euroset co-owner Alexander Mamut has been looking to sell his 50.1 per cent stake since last December.

MegaFon is majority owned by Mr. Usmanov's AF Telecom, which holds 50 per cent plus one share of the company, while 35.6 per cent is owned by Teliasonera, and 14.4 per cent is held by the company as treasury stock.

At the time of the April deal, when Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman sold his 25.1 per cent stake for $5.2-billion in cash as part of Mr. Usmanov's takeover, the parties announced that Teliasonera would reduce its holding in MegaFon to 25.1 per cent through the proposed IPO, while the remainder of the offering would be made up of treasury shares.

Story continues below advertisement

Teliasonera spokesman Thomas Jonsson confirmed that preparations for the MegaFon float were continuing but declined to elaborate.

Analysts said valuation was more important than timing to TeliaSonera.

"Telia has been saying that it is dependent on market conditions and they are not particularly happy with the peer-group multiples of Russian assets as things stand," said James Britton, an analyst at Nomura Securities in London.

"Our view is that we certainly expect there to be some delay," he added.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies