BelTA quotes Belarus’ Communications and Information Technology Minister Sergei Popkov as saying that the government has no plans to auction off its stake in the country’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, MTS Belarus, this year. The minister confirmed: ‘Currently there are no such plans. I would like to note that today there are no such examples on the telecommunications market. It is not the best time to sell.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MTS Belarus is a joint limited liability company controlled by state-owned Intercity Communications (51%) and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) of Russia (49%). The government has tried repeatedly to offload its majority shareholding, with the high asking price proving to be a persistent stumbling block.
The government has not hidden its desire to sell off its 51% shareholding in MTS Belarus, despite numerous previous failures to do so. The latest attempt took place in February 2014 but the tender received no bids despite it reducing the price of its controlling stake from USD1 billion to USD863 million, following a series of unsuccessful attempts to sell the stake at the higher price. In February 2015, however, the government dusted off the plan once again with the then first deputy chairman of the state property committee of Belarus, Alexei Vasilyev, quoted as saying: ‘The value of shares in MTS … remain the same in comparison with the previous attempt’.