MegaFon completes purchases of South Ossetia, Abkhazia operators

27 Apr 2009

MegaFon has completed the purchases of Aquafon and Ostelecom, two mobile network operators in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively, both breakaway regions from Georgia. According to MAonline.ru, the Russian cellco paid RUB935 million (USD28.5 million) for a 100% stake in Debton Investment Ltd, which owns 51% stakes in both Aquafon and Ostelecom. Aquafon has offered GSM services in Abkhazia since 2003, and in 2007 it reportedly launched a 3G network. In December 2008 CommsUpdate reported that Tbilisi City Court turned down a secondary appeal by MegaFon seeking the dismissal of a USD360,000 fine imposed by the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) for operating without a licence in South Ossetia. In October the Administrative Panel of the same court rejected MegaFon’s appeal against the GNCC for unlicensed use of radio frequency spectrum within Georgia’s sovereign territory. The GNCC won a claim that before the recent war between Russia and Georgia, operations controlled by MegaFon covered only part of the former Autonomous Republic of South Ossetia, but that in August the operator unlawfully expanded its coverage area and exceeded the conflict zone to include the regions of Gori and Kareli.

Georgia, Russia, Aquafon GSM (Abkhazia), MegaFon