Veon completed the sale of its 98 per cent stake in Tajikistan mobile operator Tacom, which operates under the Beeline brand, to Zet Mobile.
Zet Mobile already owned 2 per cent of the business, which Veon reportedly sought to exit due to problems relating to Tajikistan’s tax system after the country’s tax committee imposed fines totally $45 million on Tacom in 2016.
Russian business daily Vedomosti first reported Veon was looking to sell in April, estimating Tacom could be worth anywhere between $70 million to $200 million.
Veon acquired a 60 per cent stake in Tacom for $12 million in 2005, before gradually increasing its stake. However, it stopped disclosing its business performance in Tajikistan after Q2 2016 in a move apparently related to the tax fines.
Tacom lodged an appeal in the country’s Higher Economic Court, which was rejected.
Veon is not the only company to exit the country. In 2017, Telia sold its 60 per cent stake in the company which controlled Tajikistan operator Tcell to the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, with the stake valued at $27.7 million. The sale had been held up by a tax dispute with the country’s authorities.
The Beeline brand name is likely to stay: GSMA Intelligence figures placed the brand’s market share at 12 per cent in Q1 2018, behind market leaders Babilon Mobile (38 per cent), Tcell (27 per cent) and Megafon (18 per cent).