The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, used the forum of a meeting with heads of mass media for the CIS nations to announce the government’s intention to sell its 51% stake in mobile operator MTS Belarus. In response to claims that its USD1 billion asking price is too high, Lukashenko said that it was not a case that something was either ‘cheap or expensive’, rather it is the case that in business it comes down to people sitting down and negotiating a deal. ‘If you are ready to buy tomorrow, we are ready to sell,’ he added.
As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September this year Belarusian state owned fixed line incumbent Beltelecom set 19 September as the date for a presentation of the auction process to sell the government’s stake in MTS Belarus. Previous efforts to offload the share have foundered amid concerns over the high asking price. The last attempt took place as recently as November 2012 when the government invited 45 companies to bid, but no one was interested given the asking price. Russian powerhouse Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) owns the other 49% of MTS Belarus and has long argued that the state’s valuation of its interest is too high.