January 16, 2013 / 9:25 AM / 7 years ago

Russia's MTS says Uzbek unit applies for bankruptcy

* MTS had been fighting to restore Uzbek business

* Court revoked company’s license to operate there in August

* Says $150 mln recovered by law enforcement agencies

MOSCOW, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Russia’s No. 1 telecoms operator MTS said on Wednesday its Uzbek subsidiary had applied for bankruptcy.

The phone operator had been fighting to restore its Uzbek business after a court revoked its license to operate in August as part of dispute involving a criminal case against local MTS managers and a back-tax claim.

MTS was ordered to pay $600 million in fines by an Uzbek court in November.

The company, part of oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema , has written off more than $1 billion in costs in Uzbekistan and wrote off $579 in impaired Uzbek assets in the second quarter of 2012.

At the same time, it said legal proceedings in Uzbekistan were likely to result in around $500 million in further expenditures on tax and other liabilities.

It also said some $150 million from Uzbek unit Uzdunrobita’s bank account had already been recovered by law enforcement agencies.

MTS has denied all claims of wrongdoing in its Uzbek subsidiary and has said it was the victim of “classic shakedown”.

Uzdunrobita contributed revenue of $430 million or 3.5 percent of the group total in 2011.

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