The government of the Republic of Belarus has no immediate desire to offload its majority stake in domestic mobile operator MTS Belarus, according to communications minister Nikolai Pantelei. Speaking to reporters in Minsk, Pantelei said that holding on to its 51% stake – held through state vehicle Intercity Communications – is advantageous to the administration. ‘The company has had a successful performance. I think no other investments by Beltelecom would yield such a result as its involvement in MTS,’ he said. Mr Pantelei went on to say that, having failed to auction off its majority shareholding at the end of last year, the government is still ready to consider selling the stake. ‘If there’s a worthy investor, if a specific interesting offer is made to the state, it will be considered. But there’s no critical situation on this subject,’ the minister said.
In November 2011 Russian mobile group Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) decided not to purchase the 51% stake it does not already own in Belarusian affiliate MTS Belarus in the government’s auction, which was slated for 1 December. At the time the Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (MoCI) reportedly invited no fewer than 50 international companies to take part in the auction. Nikolai Pantelei informed the press at a conference held on 11 October, that the minimum price for the equity stake on offer is USD1 billion. But that announcement came to the dismay of MTS, which indicated it would have bought the remainder – but only for what it considers a fair price. ‘We are satisfied with how our rights as a junior partner of the state and a strategic partner in this endeavour, are being respected,’ MTS said in a written statement.