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Ukraine may ban Russian operators from bidding for 3G

MOSCOW, September 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine may prohibit operators, where Russian companies hold at least a 50% stake, from participating in auctions for the third generation (3G) connection licenses, business daily Vedomosti reported Wednesday, quoting a spokesperson of a Commission for State Regulation in the Communications and Information Industry.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said earlier that he would grant licenses almost for nothing to attract European operators and end the monopoly of Russian companies.

Ukraine’s three largest mobile operators - Kyivstar, Astelit, known under the life brand, and MTS-Ukraine - have Russian shareholders, but the decision may be applied only to MTS-Ukraine, which is 100%-owned by Russia’s major cellular operator MTS.

Kyivstar is 100%-owned by international holding VimpelCom Ltd., in which Altimo, a telecommunications branch of Russia’s Alfa-Group, owns a 47.9% voting stake.

Astelit will be able to bid for 3G frequencies: 44% of the company belongs to Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov and 56% to Turkish operator Turkcell, in which Altimo also holds 13.2%.

Konstantin Ankilov, general director of research company TMT Consulting, said that VimpelCom Ltd. and MTS account for over 80% of the Ukrainian cellular market by the number of subscribers. If they are not allowed to take part in auctions, the others will have to build 3G networks from scratch.