TeliaSonera boosts presence in Kazakhstan

International operator TeliaSonera has announced that it is to acquire Alem Communications, a WiMAX operator in Kazakhstan, for $170m. Stockholm-headquartered TeliaSonera, which has an extensive footprint in Eastern Europe, already holds the leading position in the Kazakh cellular market through its local subsidiary Kcell (GSM Kzakhstan).

In addition the operator has struck a deal with Visor Group that will see both companies take minority stakes in KazTransCom, which owns a nationwide fibre network in Kazakhstan. This deal will set TeliaSonera back $35m and Kcell has signed a five-year backbone lease agreement with KazTransCom as part of the agreement.

TeliaSonera is unlikely to be pursuing a WiMAX strategy with its acquisition. Rather, it’s interest in Alem stems from the WiMAX player’s 2.5/2.6GHz spectrum portfolio, which is technology neutral.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to reach agreement in relation to these important transactions. They will be crucial for Kcell’s continued leadership in the rapidly growing mobile data sector and reaffirm our strategic commitment to developing mobile technologies and services in Kazakhstan. The investment in, and agreement with, KazTransCom would also secure further backbone capacity for Kcell at competitive prices for the years to come, a very important factor for future competitiveness as data volumes continue to grow rapidly,” said Tero Kivisaari, President, Business Area Eurasia, TeliaSonera.

TeliaSonera has a total of 172.1 million subscribers to its operations worldwide, according to Informa’s World Cellular Investors product.

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