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MoCI invites 50 foreign firms to bid for MTS Belarus stake

12 Oct 2011

The Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (MoCI) of Belarus has invited no fewer than 50 international companies – ranging from Europe to Russia and the Middle East – to take part in its forthcoming auction of a 51% stake in domestic mobile operator MTS Belarus. Ministry head Nikolai Pantelei informed the press at a conference held on 11 October, Telegraf.by reports, although the official stopped short of divulging names of specific companies that have been approached by the MoCI. However, Pantelei did confirm that the minimum price for the equity stake on offer is USD1 billion, to the dismay of Russian regional mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), which owns the remaining 49% in the Belarusian mobile operator, and which would like to buy the remainder – but only for what it considers a fair price.

In March this year Belarus’ President Lukashenka revealed he was ready to sell the state’s 51% stake in the cellco 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 set what it considered 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. With the situation between the state and MTS unresolved the auction looks set to go ahead. The deadline for submissions from companies wishing to participate in the auction is 15 November 2011. The auction will take place on 1 December. MTS Belarus had 4.78 million subscribers at 30 June 2011.

Belarus, Ministry of Communications and Informatization (Minsvyazi), MTS Belarus

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