The auction of Turkish wireless operator Telsim is scheduled to get underway today and will be televised live over the national broadcast network. Six potential bidders are in the running – Vodafone, Russian giant Sistema, MTC of Kuwait, Etisalat, Orascom and Dubai-based construction company Emaar – with the stake carrying a USD2.8 billion reserve. Bankers expect the actual selling price to be much higher, however, possibly as much as USD5 billion. Such a figure could well be beyond the reach of a number of the bidders, including Vodafone which has recently come under pressure from investors because of a decision to stick with its underperforming Japanese operation Vodafone KK. MTC and Emaar and seen as the front-runners by Turkish pundits.