In the run-up to annual bi-lateral trade talks, the USA has warned the government of Uzbekistan of “deterioration in bilateral ties” and a “chilling effect on foreign investment.”
Tashkent’s regulators are currently demanding a disputed US$900 million from Uzdunrobita in back taxes. The operator’s licenses have been suspended, cutting off over 9 million consumers, and managers from the MTS local subsidiary have been imprisoned.
While the 53% majority stake in MTS, and by extension Uzdunrobita, is owned by AFK Sistema, the Russian holding company belonging to the oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov, there is a significant American stake in the business.
47% of MTS’s shares are free floating, with a third of these owned by large institutional investors in New York, where the shares are listed. American parties include Lazard Asset Management and Black Rock.