* Says mobile licences reissued for three-year term
* Signs settlement agreement with Turkmen government
* Still facing licence suspension in Uzbekistan (Adds details, background, analyst comment)
MOSCOW, July 26 (Reuters) - Russia’s top mobile operator MTS is resuming operations in Turkmenistan, the company said after the Central Asian state reissued a licence that was revoked in 2010.
MTS had an 85 percent share of Turkmenistan’s mobile market until December 2010, when its mobile licence was suspended for reasons that the company said “were never fully justified”. It also had to write off of about $140 million.
In a statement on Thursday, MTS said that it has been granted GSM and 3G licences for a three-year term and is currently working with the vendors to restore its network and relaunch operations.
“MTS’s equipment in Turkmenistan is in surprisingly good shape and we expect it to launch commercially very quickly,” said ING analyst Tibor Bokor.
“With the absence of meaningful competition MTS should get back most of its clients and Turkmenistan should boost consolidated revenues by 3 to 4 percent in 2013,” he added.
Under its agreement with the state telecoms provider TurkmenTelecom, MTS will pay 30 percent of its net profit in the country on a monthly basis.
The agreement was signed for a period of five years and may be extended for a further five years, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions, MTS said in a statement.
The company also said that it had signed a settlement agreement with the Turkmen government and state telecoms operators, under which they will withdraw all mutual legal claims relevant to the 2010 suspension of its licence.
MTS said this month that its licence in Uzbekistan was suspended for ten days because of a dispute with the local government over a back-tax claim and a criminal case against its managers.
Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by David Goodman