Belarusian online news portal Naviny.by reports that the country’s State Property Committee and state-owned monopoly Beltelecom will hold an event in the capital, Minsk, on 12 October to advertise the forthcoming auction of the government’s 51% stake in domestic cellco MTS Belarus. Russian regional mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) owns the remaining 49% in the unit.
In March this year President Lukashenka revealed he was ready to sell the state’s 51% stake in MTS Belarus to the Russians for USD1 billion, prompting MTS to respond by saying that whilst it is keen to develop its Belarusian business, it might put its own stake up for sale if Lukashenka sets what it considers an unreasonably high valuation on the 51% stake. In July the head of the State Property Committee, Heorhiy Kuznyatsow, revealed that the Russian shareholder had refused to buy the stake for USD1 billion and offered half the amount.
The deadline for submissions from companies wishing to participate in the auction is 15 November 2011. The auction will take place on 1 December. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database reports that MTS Belarus had 4.78 million subscribers at 30 June 2011.