(Corrects Astelit group’s 12 percent rise to a 12 percent fall in final paragraph)
By Dasha Afanasieva
ISTANBUL, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Businesses run by Turkish mobile operator Turkcell and Russia’s VimpelCom and MTS have been awarded 3G mobile licences in Ukraine, the companies said on Tuesday.
The tender came months after Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk signalled Kiev would favour non-Russian companies in airwave auctions by threatening to break up Russia’s 80 percent dominance of the mobile market.
But analysts said Russian companies would still be the strongest contenders in mobile auctions because of their financial position.
“The 3G license tender was organised in a very professional manner, while each stage was conducted with the highest level of transparency,” Andrei Dubovskov, chief executive of MTS Group, said in a regulatory statement.
MTS last year said it reserved the right to protect its interests if it was barred from participating.
VimpelCom — whose Kyivstar business is already the biggest wireless carrier in Ukraine with 42 percent market share — said it acquired the licence at the regulator’s starting point of 2.7 billion hryvnia ($95.24 million). A VimpelCom spokesman said the process was “absolutely transparent.”
Turkcell’s Astelit, which is 55 percent owned by the Turkish operator, bid 3.35 billion hryvnia, Turkcell said in a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange.
Astelit is aiming to launch 3G services in Ukraine six months after it formally acquires the licence, and will cover regional centres in Ukraine in 3G within 18 months as required by the Ukrainian regulator, the company said.
In 2014, the Astelit group represented 6 percent of Turkcell revenues, having fallen 12 percent year-on-year in lira terms.
$1 = 28.3500 hryvnias Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Mark Potter