The government of Uzbekistan is offering assets seized from Russian operator MTS to the firm’s creditors, following unsuccessful attempts to find a party interested in acquiring them.
Both auctions for the assets of MTS subsidiary Uzdunrobita failed to attract any applicants. If the creditors refuse to take them then ownership could be transferred to the local authorities.
The operator had its licence revoked in August 2012, with the Uzbek government citing repeated regulatory violations and non-payment of taxes.
A court ruling that allowed the government to assume control over the operator was later overturned, instead declaring that Uzdunrobita must pay around $600 million in fines. After failing to meet this penalty, Uzdunrobita was forced to file for bankruptcy, with liquidation procedures beginning in April 2013.
MTS has long claimed that there was “no legal or factual basis” for seizing Uzdunrobita’s assets and reaffirmed this belief after the failed auctions, adding that it aims to recover damages from Uzbekistan or any organisation that has blocked its operations in the country. The company currently has a claim pending with the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.