Central Asia News reports that the assets of former wireless operator MTS Uzbekistan – also known locally by its previous name Uzdubrobita – have been transferred to state-backed telco Uzbektelecom for safekeeping. Uzbeketelecom, which provides wireless services under the Uzmobile brand, has not been granted permission to make use of the assets, but will nevertheless monitor the condition of the equipment for an undisclosed duration. MTS was stripped of its licences in mid-2012 before filing for bankruptcy in early 2013. In July 2013 a liquidation committee failed on three occasions to sell the assets of the cellco and in August the company’s creditors agreed to transfer the assets to local authorities.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the controversial closure of MTS is understood to have been orchestrated by, or at the behest of, Gulnora Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov and owner of Uzdunrobita prior to its sale to Russian telecoms giant Mobile TeleSystems (MTS). The cellco’s closure followed a similar pattern to other government-sanctioned shakedowns in the notoriously corrupt nation, whereby foreign-owned companies have been hounded or shut down by state agencies with a view to either coercing a pay-out from the firm’s owners or simply seizing their assets to be handed to members of the ruling elite.