By Ekaterina Shatalova
OAO Mobile TeleSystems, Russia’s biggest mobile-phone operator, may sell its share of a venture with Belarus if the government carries out a plan to auction its controlling stake on the international market.
“If Belarus offers its holding for the reported price of $1 billion, we don’t exclude that we will simultaneously put ours up for sale,” said Yelena Kokhanovskaya, a Moscow-based spokeswoman for Mobile TeleSystems, which is also known as MTS.
MTS held talks about buying out Belarus’s 51 percent of the venture, although the negotiations failed over the price, the state news service Belta reported today, citing Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Kalinin.
“MTS is still interested in developing its Belarus business and in acquiring the government’s stake at a reasonable price,” said Kokhanovskaya.
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said the government is willing to sell its 51 percent of the venture to MTS for $1 billion, the Interfax news service reported March 18.
Belarus may sell its stake the mobile-phone venture and in part of its 50 percent stake in the Beltransgaz pipeline operator this year to raise cash from abroad as it faces a budget gap, Interfax reported yesterday, citing Natalya Zhernosek, the director of the state property fund.
OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas-export monopoly, owns half of Beltransgaz, paying $2.5 billion to build up its stake from 2007 to 2010.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ekaterina Shatalova in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org
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