VimpelCom eyes SB Telecom's 49 pct Belarus MDC mobile telco stake - report

MOSCOW (Thomson Financial) - OJSC Vimpel Communications (VimpelCom) has been in talks since May to acquire a 49 pct stake in Belarus's Mobile Digital Communications (MDC) from SB Telecom, two sources close to the Russian mobile company told Kommersant newspaper.

Earlier this month, reports appeared in the Austrian press stating that Telekom Austria Group AG would likely bid around 1.2 bln eur for the entire company.

Kommersant added that the Belarussian government directly owns a 31 pct stake in the company, and that it controls an additional 20 pct via its Beltechexport company.

However reports in the Austrian press stated that the Belarussian government recently sold its stake in the company to SB Telecom.

SB Telecom's Geneva office declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Russian daily.

A VimpelCom spokeswoman also declined to comment, while confirming her company's overall interest in the Belarussian market.

"We have said on numerous occasions that we are interested in entering the Belarussian market," the spokeswoman said.

"It is an interesting market for us, and we are prepared to examine any opportunity to enter it." MDC operates under the Velcom brand in Belarus, where it has 2.7 mln subscribers, good for a 43 pct market share.