Belarus puts MTS unit up for sale by international tender

By Ira Iosebashvili, Dow Jones Newswires

Government aims to sell stake back to Russian mobile group.

Belarus aims to sell its 51% stake in a subsidiary of Russia's biggest mobile telecoms firm OAO Mobile TeleSystems through an international tender, a Belarussian official told the state news agency Friday.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said last month he wanted to sell the stake back to MTS--which owns 49% of the company--for $1 billion, a figure that analysts said was overvalued by as much as 40%.

"This stake will be put up for international tender," Belarussian deputy prime minister Anatoly Kalinin said, in comments carried by the BELTA news agency."There was an offer from the Russian company, there were talks, but we could not reach an agreement on price."

Faced with a gaping trade balance, Belarus is looking for ways to shore up dwindling reserves and avoid further devaluation of its ruble.

The state property fund announced Thursday it may raise cash by selling part of its stake in Beltransgas, a company that transports gas between Russia and Europe.


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