Yevroset Denies Plans to Sell Stake

MTA woman talking on her phone, right, while a man poses with a mannequin near a Yevroset shop on Tverskaya Ulitsa.
Yevroset, the country's largest mobile-phone retailer, denied media reports Wednesday that it was planning to sell a stake in the company to No. 1 mobile operator MTS.

"The information appearing in the press over the past months that Yevroset was planning to sell a 25 percent stake and saying the company is negotiating with MTS is completely false," Yevroset spokesman Ochir Mandzhikov said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

"The company has not received any purchase offers from mobile operators or their shareholders."

Vedomosti cited unnamed sources as saying that Yevroset shareholders Yevgeny Chichvarkin and Timur Artemyev have been in talks with unspecified individuals to sell the company to MTS.

Mandzhikov said Yevroset and MTS continued to cooperate on marketing initiatives, but were not talking about a sale.

MTS spokeswoman Irina Osadchaya said Wednesday that the company would not comment on the reports, which she dismissed as merely speculation.

Yevroset president Alexei Chuikin said last year that the company might sell as much as 25 percent of the company to help restructure about $840 million of debt. In January, Chichvarkin told reporters that he was considering selling a stake to an investor but added that no talks were being held.

Yevroset reported record revenues of $5.61 billion for 2007. The company, whose market share reached 35 percent last year, expects sales to rise by 6 percent to 8 percent in 2008, Mandzhikov said.

Yevroset had 5,145 outlets in 11 former Soviet countries at the end of last year. Apart from handsets, it sells digital cameras, accessories and services.