Telia is selling a controlling stake in Kazakhstan’s largest mobile operator Kcell to Kazakhtelecom following a tender late in 2017, Russian news site CNews reported.
Information on Telia’s website shows Kcell is listed on the London and Kazakhstan stock exchanges, with the operator currently owning a 60.4 per cent stake. CNews reported Telia directly owns a 24 per cent stake while 51 per cent is held by Fintur, a holding company in which Telia owns a 58.6 per cent stake. The tender included a sale of both blocks.
The news outlet said state-controlled Kazakhtelecom, the country’s largest fixed-line operator, won the tender and the deal was closed on 21 December.
However, it cites “unknown reasons” for the deal not being officially announced and also quoted a source as saying Kazakhtelecom offered the lowest price of the three participants. The other two were Transtelecom, which offered the highest price, and entrepreneur Aidan Karibzhanov.
Bids varied from $800 million to $1.2 billion. Capitalisation of Kcell, based on quotations on the London Stock Exchange, stands at $2.4 billion.
In 2011 Telia agreed to buy 49 per cent of shares in Kcell from Kazakhtelecom for $1.5 billion, which was followed by an IPO. However Kazakhtelecom since renewed its interest in mobile and in 2015 decided to combine its mobile unit Altel with Tele2’s mobile business in the country.
Telia is in the process of divesting its assets in Eurasian markets as part of a long-term strategy to focus on its Nordic and Baltic markets.
Earlier this week Telia said its position regarding a tax row over the sale of its stake in Nepal operator Ncell in 2016 (made as part of its divestment move) remained unchanged, following reports Nepal’s government had contacted Sweden’s government regarding the matter.
In a statement, Telia reiterated there are “no tax obligations in Nepal on the foreign part of the transaction”, noting it “has stated repeatedly that it met all tax requirements” relating to Ncell covering the years 2008 to 2016.