Eight now in hunt for OTE’s 90% stake in ArmenTel

12 Jun 2006

Three leading Russian telecommunication conglomerates – Sistema, Rostelecom, and Vimpelcom – have joined the hunt to buy a 90% interest in Armenia’s largest fixed and wireless operator ArmenTel from Greek telco OTE. The Russian companies will compete with five other operators, MTC Kuwait, Armenia’s Sil group, Belgium’s Belgacom, Hungary’s PanTel, and Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates. The most serious rivals to the Russian challenge are expected to come from MTC and Etisalat.

OTE announced its intention to sell 90% of ArmenTel shares in early April 2006. The Armenian operator provides services to 595,000 fixed line customers and controls over a half the country’s cellular market, with more than 50,000 subscribers. OTE is pulling out following a disagreement with minority shareholder – the Armenian government – over the planned business strategy for the company. The state is said to be opposed to plans to raise tariffs.