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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Telekom Austria Backs Belarus Deal

Telekom Austria has approved a plan to buy the second-largest mobile phone firm in Belarus, according to people close to the Austrian firm's supervisory board.

The board of Telekom Austria met Thursday to approve purchasing a majority stake in Mobile Digital Communications, the second-biggest mobile phone company in Belarus, the Austrian Press Agency reported, citing sources close to the firm. Telekom Austria aims to reach a final agreement this week or next, the agency said Tuesday.

The bid could open up the country's tightly controlled telecoms market to foreign investment and pave the way for Russian firms to increase their presence there. "Telekom Austria's bid is the first step toward making the Belarus telecoms market competitive," said Vitaly Kupeyev, a telecoms analyst with Alfa Bank. "Its entry could also be a magnet for Russian telecoms companies willing to expand in the CIS market."

With 2.8 million subscribers, MDC controls 41.9 percent of Belarus' mobile phone market.

Bloomberg, MT