MINSK, Jul 21 (PRIME) — The Belarusian authorities are expected to set the price of the governments 51% stake in mobile operator MTS Belarus at about U.S. $1 billion if it holds an auction for the stake, the state property committees Chairman Georgy Kuznetsov said at a news conference Thursday.
If we hold an auction, we will have to set the price, which (we) offered to the Russians (major mobile operator MTS), Kuznetsov said, adding that if the government decides to sell the stake at a lower price, it will be legally bound to offer the stake at that price to MTS, which holds the remaining 49% in MTS Belarus.
MTS, which is seeking to gain control over MTS Belarus, previously offered to buy the Belarusian governments stake for about $400 million to $500 million, but when the government requested $1 billion for the stake, MTS rejected the governments offer, Kuznetsov said.
In mid-March, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said the government was ready to sell a controlling stake in MTS Belarus to MTS for U.S. $1 billion, Belarusian news agency BelTA reported.
The Belarusian government estimates the value of the 51% stake in MTS Belarus at between $960 million and $970 million, Kuznetsov also said.
Meanwhile, some analysts estimated the value of a 51% stake in MTS Belarus at about $700 million.
In late June, the state property committees official Anna Korniyevich said the committee planned to put the governments stake in MTS Belarus up for sale at an action in 2011.
The government is currently considering the documents, Kuznetsov said, reiterating that the final decision is to be made by Lukashenko.