| ST PETERSBURG, Russia
ST PETERSBURG, Russia May 24 Mobile phone
operator MTS sees no serious risk to its business from
Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis or
from Russia's economic slowdown, Chief Executive Andrei
MTS, Russia's biggest mobile phone operator and the number
two in Ukraine, warned in its 2013 annual report that political
instability in Russia's fellow former Soviet republic and a
deterioration in relations between Russia and the West could
have an adverse affect on its business and on its share price.
But Dubovskov said in an interview on the sidelines of the
St Petersburg International Economic Forum: "We do not see the
sanctions being a serious threat to our business."
"And in general we are currently not seeing any threatening
signs on the market for the telecommunications business,
including of a macroeconomic nature," he added.
MTS said in February its sales growth was likely slow to 3-5
percent this year, adjusting guidance to take into account
Russia's slower economic growth. It repeated the outlook in
March when reporting a 5.3 percent rise in 2013 revenues.
Rival Megafon also said its business was resilient
to the current macroeconomic and geopolitical problems, although
it said it was looking at how to cope if Western sanctions over
the Ukraine crisis expand.
The European Union and the United States have imposed
sanctions on some individuals and businesses considered close to
President Vladimir Putin over Russia's annexation of the Crimea
region from Ukraine in March.
Dubovskov also said that if MTS were to return to the former
Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, which if was forced out of in
2012, it would probably not require major investments.
Vladimir Evtushenkov, the chairman and main owner of MTS'
parent company Sistema , said this week
Sistema was in talks with the Uzbek government on restoring
operations in the Central Asian state and could return to the
market as early as in 2014, according to Russian news agencies.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Editing by Timothy Heritage)