Mobile phone giant Vodafone has denied a report that it is in talks with the telecoms arm of Russia's Alfa Group conglomerate about a possible £15 billion tie-up.
"We are not in any sort of negotiations," a spokesman for the phone company said last night.
Vodafone's declaration comes in response to a report in yesterday's edition of the Times newspaper, which claimed that Russian firm Altimo had approached the mobile phone provider with a view to embarking on either a joint venture or a merger with the company as it seeks to expand outside its home country.
The paper claimed that Altimo was hoping to secure a 20 per cent stake in Vodafone.
Altimo vice president Kirill Babaev told the Times that the Russian company, which has assets worth $10 billion (£5.25 billion), was also in talks with other European telecoms companies, including France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom.
"We are in negotiations with Vodafone, and with other large European telecoms companies," Mr Babaev said.
While Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin has previously named Russia as a possible target market for future expansion, the company last night broke with its tradition of refusing to comment on market speculation by denying that it was negotiating with Altimo over a possible deal between the two companies.