Putin allows Russian telecom operator to buy out Nokia

AFP , Thursday 30 May 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday authorised a state-owned telecoms giant to buy out Finnish mobile operator Nokia's stake in a Russian joint venture.


Under laws introduced in response to Western sanctions, Putin must personally approve any deal that involves the exit of a Western company operating in sectors of the economy Moscow deems to be strategically important.

In a decree published Wednesday, Putin authorised a subsidiary of Rostelecom -- which the government controls through various state development corporations and a state-owned bank -- to buy out Nokia's 49 percent stake in a joint venture called "RTC - Network Technologies."

Rostelecom and Nokia launched the venture in 2018 to invest in "advanced technologies" related to areas including 5G and the "internet of things," according to a press release at the time.

Nokia had owned 49 percent of the company.

The Finnish company announced in April 2022 it would leave the Russian market after Moscow launched its full-scale military offensive on Ukraine that February.

Russia and the West have tussled over the status of assets held in each other's jurisdictions for the past two years.

Moscow recently announced tit-for-tat measures that would allow it to confiscate assets held by US companies and individuals in Russia, in what it said was a response to the West freezing around $300 billion of Russian assets, mostly Central Bank reserves.

Russia has taken a number of Western companies under "temporary" state control, measures blasted by some of the companies and Western officials as illegal nationalisation.

The West has also targeted Russia's telecommunications networks through sanctions on technology and hardware exports.

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