Veon sells Tajik telecoms subsidiary

DUSHANBE, April 5 (The Conway Bulletin) – Veon, the Russian telecoms company headquartered in Amsterdam and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, agreed to sell its Tacom unit in Tajikistan to an unnamed Tajik businessman for an undisclosed amount.

Tacom had been operating under Veon’s Beeline brand, which covers much of the former Soviet Union, and had 1.2m subscribers across Tajikistan – the fourth biggest subscriber base in the country after Babylon, Tcell and a subsidiary of Megafon.

This is the second major telecoms deal in Tajikistan in the past year. In 2017, Sweden-Finnish Telia sold a 60% stake in Tcell for $27.7m.

A source at Veon told the Asia-Plus news agency that pressure from the Tajik tax authorities and the state communications authorities, which has the power to switch on and off internet access, had been one reason why the company had wanted to sell.

“For example, on April 5, Beeline was without the Internet for five hours. When there are a lot of obligations to the Tax Committee, the Communications Service, costs for the Unified Switching Center, the Internet, it’s hard for everyone to be paid on time,” the source said.

“In these cases, the Communications Service blocks the channel, and we do not have backup channels.”

Telia also complained of pressure from the Tajik tax authorities when it sold its majority stake in Tcell to the Aga Khan. It said that a back-tax bill and difficult officials had delayed the deal and also knocked the price down.

>>This story was first published in issue 368 of the Conway Bulletin on April 15

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