(In Dec 3 story, changes headline and first paragraph to show target is for after 2009, not in 2009. Also corrects in second paragraph to “agreed to pay $500 million” from “spent $500 million” and corrects to show $100 million to be paid at a later date as part of the deal, not for an additional stake. Also adds that company agreed to invest $500 million in its development. In sixth paragraph substitutes new quote making clear no time frame for gaining an equal market share. Adds name of company executive)
MINSK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Belarussian mobile phone operator BeST, 80 percent owned by Turkey’s Turkcell, aims to corner a third of the market after 2009, bringing it close to the top two operators, the company said on Wednesday.
Turkcell TCELL.IS agreed to pay $500 million to buy the 80 percent stake and another $100 million in the first year that BeST shows a net profit and agreed to invest $500 million in the company's development over 10 years.
The largest operator in the country of 10 million is MTS, 49 percent owned by Russia's MTS MBT.N and 51 percent owned by the state. This operator has 4 million customers.
The second largest with 3.5 million customers is Velcom, controlled by Austria Telekom TELA.VI.
Turkcell’s BeST has just 200,000 customers.
“We first aim to equally share the market with the two other operators and then win the market share, but I cannot give a time frame for this target,” the company’s general manager, Ozcan Ermis, said. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; writing by Sabina Zawadzki and Ron Popeski)
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