Swedish group TeliaSonera has closed two transactions in former Soviet satellites in order to streamline ownership structures and to strengthen its position and influence in the Georgian and Uzbek markets.
In Georgia, TeliaSonera subsidiary Fintur Holdings has acquired an additional 14.3% of local cellco Geocell for USD33 million, taking ownership to 97.5%. TeleiaSonera’s interest in Fintur, direct and indirect, totals around 74%.
In addition, TeliaSonera has finalised negotiations to introduce a local partner to its Uzbekistan mobile operator Coscom, and sold 26% of its 100% stake for a cash sum of approximately USD50 million.
‘These transactions emphasise TeliaSonera’s commitment to the region and are in line with our strategy to be the leading Eurasian mobile operator,’ said Tero Kivisaari, president of TeliaSonera Eurasia. ‘The introduction of a minority shareholder in Uzbekistan is expected to bring significant local capabilities and efficiencies to enhance our position and influence in the Uzbek market.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Geocell was Georgia’s leading cellco at the end of September 2007, with just under 1.2 million customers and a 50% market share. At the same date Coscom had 487,000 subscribers in Uzbekistan and an 11% market share, placing it third behind Russian-owned operators Uzdunrobita and Beeline.