Turkcell takes over Belarus's BeST for $500m

Turkey's Turkcell agreed to pay $500 million to acquire 80% of Belarus's state-owned mobile operator BeST, a Reuters report said.

Turkcell said it will pay the government $300 million within 30 days after striking the deal and $100 million a year in 2009 and 2010 for BeST, Belarus's third largest mobile operator with 187,000 subscribers.

Turkcell agreed to pay another $100 million if BeST shows a net profit in 2008 and invest $500 million in BeST's development, the Reuters report said.

The Belarus government has promised not to sell the remaining 20% stake within the next five years.

BeST had a profit of $1.2 million in 2008, Turkcell said in a statement. Turkcell earlier described the business environment in the isolationist ex-Soviet state, as "difficult".

The Belarus government, which announced a large scale privatisation programme this year following a hike in prices for Russian gas, sold 70% of the country's second largest mobile operator, Velcom, to Austria Telecom.

The government also owns a 51% stake in the largest operator MTS, in which Russian MTS holds the remaining 49%.