The FINANCIAL — The Finnish-Swedish holding TeliaSonera has acquired 100% of the shares of Geocell, InterpressNews Georgian news agency reported.
Teliasonera started negotiations with local partners of Geocell in 2007 and purchased 14.8% at the beginning of 2008. It subsequently conducted negotiations with the Georgian Government about purchasing its 2.5% stake, which was agreed on January 30. The takeover was worth 7 million USD.
MagtiCom is the second largest of the three GSM network operators in the country and according to figures from the Mobile World, they ended last September with just over 1.15 million customers and a market share of 40%. Market leader is Geocell with just under 1.5 million customers, and the smallest is new entrant, Mobitel. There is also a small CDMA operator, Iberiatel with 67,000 subscribers.
TeliaSonera is co-owner of MegaFon, Russia's third-largest mobile phone operator after MTS and Vimpelcom. Two months ago Georgia threatened to keep increasing the heavy fine it has imposed on Russian mobile operator MegaFon for allegedly operating without a licence in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
In June, GNCC said MegaFon illegally operated in South Ossetia and ordered it to pay a $3,500 fine within 30 days – but it has since increased the figure dramatically.
MegaFon did not pay the original penalty and denied it operated on Georgian territory. It said it could not stop people accessing its services from base stations in nearby Russian regions.