Swedish telecoms company Tele2 says to quit Kazakhstan

ALMATY/Dec. 28 (The Conway Bulletin) — A fortnight after Swedish-Finnish telecoms company Telia exited Kazakhstan, its Stockholm-based rival Tele2 said it was also going to sell a stake in Altel, its joint-venture with Kazakhtelecom.

Tele2 said an option in its joint-venture agreement with state-owned Kazakhtelecom allowed it to sell its 49% stake in Altel and that it expected the deal to be concluded in six months.

“The transaction between Kazakhtelecom, Telia Company and Fintur announced on Dec. 12, in which Kazakhtelecom acquires control of Kcell, triggers the possibility for Tele2 to exercise its put option and sell its shares in the JV to Kazakhtelecom, as the JV agreement includes customary non-compete clauses,” Tele2 said in a statement.

To initiate this process, Tele2 has today filed a put option notice to Kazakhtelecom.”

Tele2’s exit means there will be no major involvement by European companies in the Kazakh telecoms sector.

Telia, and Fintur its Netherlands-registered JV with Turkcell, had been keen to quit Central Asia since a corruption scandal centred on its Uzbek operations earned it a fine of $1b in 2017 but Tele2 had given no indication that it wanted to quit too. Tele2 had merged its Kazakh operations, which it set up in 2010, with Altel in March 2016.

In October, Tele2 CEO Allison Kirkby had said in Q3 results that Altel “continues its tremendous journey”.

Industry website telecompaper.com said the decision to sell was linked to Tele2’s strategy to concentrate on markets in Europe.


>> This story was first published in issue 396 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper on Jan. 11 2019

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