Support The Moscow Times!

Watchdog Clears Rostelecom Bank Purchase

The anti-monopoly watchdog has cleared a plan by telecoms operator Rostelecom to buy medium-sized lender Sobinbank, the regulator said Thursday.

Sobinbank is ranked No. 83 by assets and is a unit of Bank Rossia of Yury Kovalchuk, a St. Petersburg banker whose association with President Vladimir Putin dates back to the early 1990s and who has business interests in telecoms.

Bank Rossia recently bought a stake in the country's fourth-biggest mobile phone operator, Tele2 Russia, and is linked to a possible plan to merge it with Rostelecom's mobile business to create a stronger rival to market leaders MTS, MegaFon and VimpelCom.

Rostelecom said Thursday it was interested in buying a bank to develop mobile banking, online payments and microfinance services and that it was considering various options.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.