STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nordic telecoms operator Telia said on Wednesday it had sold its stake in Uzbekistan’s Ucell for $215 million on a debt-free basis, as part of its strategy to exit its Eurasian businesses.
Telia announced in 2015 that it would retreat from Central Asian markets and instead refocus on growing its core Nordic operations after being hit for years by investigations into alleged corruption linked to local partners and problems accessing cash in distant countries.
After this deal, Telia has businesses in Kazakhstan and Moldova left to sell to complete its exit.
Telia said it had sold the stake in Ucell to the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Assistance to Privatized Enterprises and Development of Competition, a governmental authority of the sovereign state of Uzbekistan.
The Swedish company, which first became Ucell’s majority stakeholder in July 2007, had told Reuters in February that it hoped to complete a planned exit from its Eurasian businesses this year.
“It is satisfying that we are able to announce an agreement to sell Ucell in Uzbekistan. This is the fifth divestment in line with our decision to leave Eurasia and focus on the Nordic and Baltic regions,” Telia CEO Johan Dennelind said.
Telia said on Wednesday the deal was expected to result in a gain of about 400 million Swedish crowns ($44 million) before reclassification of accumulated foreign exchange losses of 3.8 billion crowns to net income from discontinued operations.
The deal is expected to close later on Wednesday, it said.
($1 = 9.0345 Swedish crowns)
Reporting by Esha Vaish in Stockholm; editing by Johannes Hellstrom and Elaine Hardcastle