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Fitch upgrades Sistema to BB-, outlook stable

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MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - Fitch Ratings has upgraded Russia-based Sistema financial corporation's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings to BB- from B+, with a stable outlook, the international rating agency said Thursday.

Founded in 1993, Sistema develops and manages a portfolio of market-leading businesses in selected service-based industries. The companies controlled by Sistema cater to more than 65 million consumers in Russia, former Soviet republics, Central and Western Europe.

Fitch also upgraded the Eurobonds and medium-term notes program issued by Sistema Capital S.A. and Sistema Finance S.A., both guaranteed by Sistema, to BB- from B+.

"The recent upgrade reflects a transition to a more mature stage in Sistema's business cycle and a strong free cash flow generation at MTS, Sistema's largest subsidiary," said Nikolai Lukashevich, director with Fitch's TMT team.

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