Turkcell takes over Belarus's BeST for €320.7m

Turkey's Turkcell agreed to pay €320.7 million (US$500 million) to acquire 80% of Belarus's state-owned mobile operator BeST, a Reuters report said.

Turkcell said it will pay the government €192 million (US$300 million) within 30 days after striking the deal and €64 million (US$100 million) a year in 2009 and 2010 for BeST, Belarus's third largest mobile operator with 187,000 subscribers.

Turkcell agreed to pay another €64 million (US$100 million) if BeST shows a net profit in 2008 and invest €320.7 million (US$500 million) in BeST's development, the Reuters report said.

The Belarus government has promised not to sell the remaining 20% stake within the next five years.

BeST had a profit of €770,000 (US$1.2 million) in 2008, Turkcell said in a statement. Turkcell earlier described the business environment in the isolationist ex-Soviet state, as 'difficult'.

The Belarus government, which announced a large scale privatisation programme this year following a hike in prices for Russian gas, sold 70% of the country's second largest mobile operator, Velcom, to Austria Telecom.

The government also owns a 51% stake in the largest operator MTS, in which Russian MTS holds the remaining 49%.