Russia’s largest cellco by subscribers Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is lining up a bid for a 67.7% state-owned stake in Ukrainian national PTO Ukrtelecom, in an upcoming public auction this year. ‘We’re really interested in Ukrtelecom,’ Andrei Dubovskov, acting chief executive of MTS Ukraine, the country’s second largest mobile operator, told reporters in Kiev yesterday. He added that ‘we have been asked to send the government our views on how the auction should be held. We have done this, along with our competitors.’ Dubovskov said that rivals asked for their views included Ukraine’s leading cellco Kyivstar, majority owned by Norway’s Telenor; Astelit, the country’s third largest wireless provider, which is owned by Turkey’s Turkcell and powerful domestic conglomerate SCM Group; and Vimpelcom, Russia’s second largest mobile operator and owner of fourth placed Ukrainian GSM player URS (Beeline). Dubovskov also warned that the USD7 billion target that Ukraine’s government has set for the sale is ‘too high’, echoing criticisms of previous failed attempts to privatise Ukrtelecom. The incumbent telco re-entered its domestic mobile market in November 2007 with the launch of the country’s first W-CDMA network.
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