Uzbekistan extends TeliaSonera’s operating licence for 15 years

By bne IntelliNews September 7, 2016

Nordic telecommunications group TeliaSonera has been granted a 15-year extension to its operating licence in Uzbekistan, where it operates under the Ucell brand, Gazeta.uz reported on September 6.

The licence extension, till 2031, suggests TeliaSonera might have changed plans to pull out of the country. In September the group said it will exit Eurasia after its operations in the region came under the scrutiny U.S. authorities. TeliaSonera, along with Russian VimpelCom and MTS, is accused of bribing entities connected to Gulnara Karimova, the now disgraced eldest daughter of late Uzbek President Islam Karimov, to win licences to operate in the mobile market, including the 3G and 4G licences. Selling out of Uzbekistan, however, would not be an easy task, TeliaSonera chief executive Johan Dennelind said in October.

TeliaSonera has earlier extended four more licences in Uzbekistan until 2020 and 2021, Gazeta.uz reported citing a company's press office. 

Ucell started operating in the country under the brand of COSCOM in 1996. Currently, the company has over 9mn subscribers in Uzbekistan, providing 2G, 3G and 4G services. The company has attracted investments of up to $1.2bn into the country’s telecommunications infrastructure, the report noted.

Teliasonera owns mobile operators in seven countries across the Central Asian region (Nepal, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan), and has over 40mn local subscribers.

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