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MTS Belarus sale: govt will try again in 2014, sticks with USD1bn valuation

9 Jul 2013

News agency BelTA reports that the government of Belarus plans to try once again to sell its 51% stake in MTS Belarus next year, and is stubbornly sticking to its USD1 billion valuation despite the high price having been cited as the likely reason for its previous failure to place the shares. At a roundtable meeting held yesterday to discuss the government’s future privatisation plans, the chairman of the state property committee Georgy Kuznetsov confirmed that that it will once again look to relaunch the auction. The Belarusian authorities have been trying to sell their majority holding in MTS Belarus, whose other shareholder is Russian giant Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), for almost four years. In each case the high valuation became the main talking point and the sale was eventually abandoned. ‘All these years investors have been talking about the high price for the share – USD1 billion,’ Mr Kuznetsov is quoted as saying. ‘In good years when the company worked well, we estimated our share at USD1 billion and we have not reduced the price since. During the crisis it was said that our share probably cost USD700 million. But now the company’s earnings are on the rise and therefore waiting to sell it may be advised. I think it will cost USD1 billion once again in a year.’ However, in a possible relaxing of its position the chairman also hinted that ‘proposals to buy out the share for USD750 million are already available’.

Belarus, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), MTS Belarus

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