Russia’s largest mobile network, MTS has sold its mobile business in Uzbekistan to the government following allegations by the US authorities that it had paid bribes to secure operating licenses in the country.
The company, which was operating under the brand name of Universal Mobile Systems in Uzbekistan, would write-off about 3 billion Russian Rubles ($46.1 million) as a result of this move. This would leave Uzbek Government in full control of the company’s operations in the country. This write-off is bound to adversely affect the bottomline of the company.
“Due to a variety of business reasons and other circumstances, MTS decided to sell its stake in the joint venture UMS LLC,” said Andrei Smelkov, MTS’s vice president, in a company statement. Several service providers, including VimpelCom and Telia have recently been accused of corruption.
Uzbek Government already owned 49.99% stake in the company in UMS, which started operating in January 2014. MTS has been facing a number of regional issues in the recent past. Many of these problems have been triggered by a currency devaluation in Russia and economic slowdown in many markets in Central Asia.