Bitel sells network to Altimo

4 Jul 2006

Kyrgyzstani wireless operator Bitel has announced it will sell its network to Sky Mobile, the non-operational wireless licensee which was acquired by Alfa Group’s Altimo last week. According to Bitel, the sale is motivated by the fact that it has received notification from the regulator that it has committed rule violations which could lead to its licence being invalidated. However, a more likely explanation is that the company is trying to circumvent legal proceedings over its ownership; in late 2005 Russian cellco MTS claimed to have bought a 51% stake in Bitel for USD150 million, but the sale was challenged by Russian company Rezervspetsmet, which is supposedly linked to Altimo. As it stands Rezervspetsmet has control of Bitel but MTS is seeking legal redress. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Bitel had in the region of 550,000 subscribers at the end of March 2006.

Kyrgyzstan, Sky Mobile (Beeline)