Russian Tug of War

9:05 AM -- A tug of war appears to be developing over regional Russian GSM operator JSC Smarts , according to local business news daily Vedomosti.

It reports that Russian mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) has made an offer to buy 97 percent of Smarts, which has about 4 million customers in 16 regions of Russia, for about $1 billion (including assumption of debt).

MTS, which has told Light Reading about its desire to acquire, said it "cannot comment on any such speculative news." (See Russia's MTS On M&A Trail.)

Vedomosti also reported that MTS rival VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) had previously made an unsuccessful offer for Smarts worth $750 million.

Dow Jones, meanwhile, reports that Smarts has received six bids in total, including at least one offer from an international player.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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