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MTS rekindles interest in buying government’s MTS Belarus stake


According to TeleGeography Mikhail Shamolin, the president of Russian telco Sistema, owner of a 52.8% controlling stake in regional powerhouse Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), says MTS is still interested in acquiring the Belarus government’s 51% stake in their mobile joint venture MTS Belarus. Speaking at the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg, Shamolin told reporters that the company was still waiting for a response from the Belarusian side concerning its offer. ‘We still want to buy the share[s], the local government [know all the] figures. We look forward to their response,’ he said.

MTS currently owns 49% of the mobile operator but has long harboured ambitions to attain 100% control of the business. However, it has failed to agree on a valuation for the Belarusian cellco, valuing it at between USD400 million-USD500 million, compared to the Minsk government’s valuation of USD960 million-USD1 billion.

The government declared its intention to auction off the MTS stake in December last year, but abandoned the plan on 23 December after the Russians declared they would not participate in the tender and no other bidders stepped forward to take its place. In April this year, communications minister Nikolai Pantelei said that Belarus had no immediate desire to offload its majority stake in the cellco – but added a caveat that it 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.

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