Mobile operator MTS Belarus, a 51:49 joint venture between the Belarusian government and Russian group Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), has reported that revenues in July-September 2012 increased by 13% year-on-year to USD95.7 million. The cellco added that OIBDA climbed 11% over the same period to USD48.5 million yielding an OIBDA margin of 50.69% – down 0.82 of a percentage point, but up 4.21 points quarter-on-quarter. MTS Belarus said monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) rose 8% q-o-q to USD5.7 as subscriber numbers increased by 6% on an annualised basis to 5.14 million. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the number of people signed up to its 3G mobile internet services increased by 12% in the three months ended 30 September 2012 to more than 800,000; the cellco closed out June 2012 with around 715,000 3G users. MTS is driving uptake for mobile broadband by continuing efforts to modernise its network.
In a separate development, the government of Belarus may announce the date for the auction of its 51% stake in MTS Belarus by the end of the year, Tut.by quotes the first deputy head of the State Property Committee, Sergey Pyatkov, as saying. The sell-off could take place in 2013 and currently has a reserve price of USD1 billion. The government is sticking to its guns when it comes to the asking price, despite apparent disinterest from potential buyers. MTS, which owns 49% of the cellco, has long argued that the USD1 billion valuation is inflated and to bear this out, the state has spent over a year now trying – unsuccessfully – to offload its equity stake.