MOSCOW, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Russian mobile phone operator MTS said that its dividend plans remain unaffected by a criminal investigation involving its parent Sistema and fellow subsidiary Bashneft.
Sistema’s chairman and majority owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov remains under house arrest and the conglomerate’s Bashneft shares have been seized by a court looking into allegations that Sistema’s 2009 acquisition of the oil company was illegal.
MTS and Bashneft are Sistema’s biggest businesses and have been its main source of dividends, but the court’s seizure of Sistema’s Bashneft stake means that the conglomerate cannot take part in the oil company’s profit distribution.
Andrei Dubovskov, MTS chief executive, said the telecoms business is sticking to its plan to pay a total of 90 billion roubles ($2.3 billion) in dividends to all shareholders in 2014 and 2015.
“We will stand by our commitments ... There are no plans to raise dividends further. Dividends should never be raised abruptly, they should increase constantly and gradually,” Dubovskov told Reuters.
“We regularly pay dividends, no matter whether there are any issues on the parent company level.”
MTS previously said that the Bashneft case did not have any impact on its operational activities. (1 US dollar = 39.6670 Russian rouble) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by David Goodman)