Alexander Surikov, Russia’s ambassador to Belarus, has told reporters that a Russian company wants to buy the Belarusian government’s 51% stake in MTS Belarus, although he stopped short of naming the group involved. The remaining 49% of the targeted cellco is owned by MobileTeleSystems (MTS) of Russia which has long harboured ambitions to buy out the shares, but has refused to pay the high asking price. In December last year the government in Minsk reduced the asking price of its controlling stake in MTS Belarus from USD1 billion to USD863 million in a bid to improve its fortunes, but the move had little effect, as in February this year it was forced to admit that its latest auction had foundered due to a lack of bids. The Russian group earlier maintained it values the stake at closer to USD450 million-USD500 million.
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