Although in Q4 2008, Mobile Telesystems (MTS) suffered a disastrous $794.8 million foreign exchange loss to reflectbook value of the company’s foreign-denominated debt due to the weak ruble, there are plenty of signs Russia’s largest mobile operator is worth investing in now.With revenue growing 4.0% to $2.42 billion from $2.33 billion a year ago, which is healthy in the current economic climate. Taking into account that the rouble declined by 16% against the dollar in the last three months of 2008, this is a signal the Mobile Telesystems is a very robust play indeed.

MTS operates GSM based mobile services across six countries within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States); Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Turkmenistan & Belarus. It also has interests in foreign mobile operations in Daghestan & India, of which more later. Within Russia, it has the highest number of post paid customers, as it looks to serve the higher end user.

In mid-April the company released subscriber figures for the 12 months ending Q1 2009 & they show some impressive growth in all markets served : Russia-8.7%, Ukraine-8.5%, Uzbekistan-67.9%, Turkmenistan-141.4%, Armenia-44.8% & Belarus-11.9%. This brings the total subscriber number for MTS up to just short of 93 million end users of which 65 million are in Russia. In comparison, the next largest operator Beeline (Vimpelcom) has 49 million subscribers, out of a total addressable base of 190 million .


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