Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lattelekom puts a cow on the ice?

There is a bizarre Swedish expression for creating a perilous situation ko på isen or a cow on the ice. This seems to have happened with Lattelekom's pending deal with Russia's Golden Telecom, partly owned by the Alfa Group (and Norway's Telenor). The deal is for a point-of-presence (POP) in Moscow that would handle some of Golden's data and voice transit (IP voice?) to Western Europe.
Makes sense - except for one thing. Alfa Group has been at loggerheads with Lattelekom's half-mother TeliaSonera about a Turkish mobile operator and apparently other issues. So what has happened is that some TeliaSonera honchos are asking Lattelekom to at least cool it with the publicity about the deal with Golden. So there may be no press conference on February 27 as announced earlier.
Another reason is that Natalia Vasiljeva, the IT and telecoms reporter for the Russian-language Business & Baltija (the newspaper, like Prince, known as &) wrote that Alfa Group might be interested in buying Lattelekom. Purely speculative, but this may have freaked out some of the Swedish honchos. Don't read Russian, this is what folks say Natalia wrote.
Given that the Latvian government won't sell Lattelekom to TeliaSonera, but rather, to anyone but, should it surprise anyone that at least one anyone but has show up? Do Russian companies not like bargains (without Latvian Mobile Telephone, with just a fixed network, 75 000 DSL lines and its two new subsidiaries, Lattelekom is still less than hot...)?
That this Russian company may be thinking the same as & is no surprise, even less of a surprise to the Latvian government, which has practically been dangling the company to all the anyone buts of the world (there aren't too many of them). So now you may be starting to get what you wanted, at the expense of a serious cow on the ice freakout by the other half=mother. Next step, what will the conservative Latvian nationalists in the Saeima say about selling the main national telecommunications network to a Russian company controlled by an oligarch-- Mihail Fridman, if I am not mistaken?
The problem with Russian ownership (Russian oligarchs are interested in making money efficiently, otherwise they would be beggar-garchs or whatever) is that oligarchs (like any Russian, except they have lots of money and economic power to take away) are not sheltered from the whims of the Russian state. So if Mihail Fridman gets on the bad side of the Putin Kremlin, his properties could end up the properties of the not-so-whimsical Russian state.
This could mean a couple of weeks of merriment...
Oh yes, TeliaSonera (Telia at the time) had an attempted marriage with Telenor that put Britney Spears' antics in Las Vegas to shame. The whole thing fell apart, some Norwegian honcho even punched out a Norwegian radio reporter as the whole mess was wobbling and reeling. A real circus. So we have a corporate nemesis and a a spurned ex-fiance out there on the ice with the cow... :)


Anonymous said...

That's interesting how ordinary business deal - rent of premises and local loop in Russia for provisioning of few data services can grow into the Lattelekom privatization issue. Obviously, topic is hot and any rumors go well.

Meatball One said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Well, Telenor is back with force and they have a secret corporate finance kinship not wholly unrelated to good old Karamehmet and Alpha Group...and Latvia for that matter. Sheesh, it's a lot more simple to understand than I make it sound.

Interesting blog...are u deep in any loops or a proficient guesser?