* TeliaSonera seeks 4G licences from Kazakh government
* Oil-rich country keen to develop IT, other high-tech
By Mariya Gordeyeva
ASTANA, May 22 Sweden-based telecoms group
TeliaSonera, which controls Kazakhstan's largest
mobile phone company KCell, plans to launch a 4G
high-speed wireless network in the oil-rich country.
TeliaSonera is seeking 4G licences from a Kazakh government
keen to attract technology investment to help to diversify its
fast-growing economy. Though foreign investors have pumped $170
billion into the central Asia country since the early 1990s,
most of that has been in the oil and gas sector.
TeliaSonera Chief Executive Per-Arne Blomquist on Wednesday
told Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Foreign
Investors' Council that his company is ready to launch 4G
services "to contribute to the development of local
infrastructure, the economy and to the running of business in
Nazarbayev, a former steelworker who has ruled with a firm
hand for more than two decades, chairs the council, which brings
together international industry chiefs leading investment in his
mineral-rich nation of 17 million people.
Fixed-line monopoly Kazakhtelecom was the first to
launch a 4G service in the capital Astana and the country's
financial centre Almaty late last year through its mobile
company Altel, the smallest among Kazakhstan's four mobile phone
"By developing innovative communication technologies,
Kazakhstan is becoming Central Asia's leader in IT and
developing into a true information society," Blomquist said.
"Kazakhstan's market is strategically important for
The Swedeish company has invested about $2 billion in
infrastructure in Kazakhstan over the past 15 years and has paid
a further $2 billion in Kazakh taxes and other obligatory
payments, he said.
Last year TeliaSonera paid $1.52 billion for 49 percent of
KCell, which sold a 25 percent stake in an initial public
offering in London and Kazakhstan last December.
KCell said on Wednesday that Ali Agan had been appointed as
its new chief executive, effective from June 1.
Agan will succeed Veysel Aral, who was named president of BA
Eurasia within the TeliaSonera Group in February 2013.
With more than 20 years' experience in the international
financial and telecoms sectors, Agan joined from Ucell, a
subsidiary of TeliaSonera and the second-largest operator in
Uzbekistan, KCell said.
KCell last month posted a 2.5 percent rise in first-quarter
net profit to 13.7 billion tenge ($90.4 million) on revenue up 4
percent to 45.05 billion tenge.
The company its Kazakhstan customer base had risen by
310,000 to 13.8 million subscribers.
(Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov in Almaty; Editing by