USA wades into MTS - Uzbekistan dispute

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.

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