MTS was established in October 1993 by Moscow City Telephone Network (MGTS), T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH (T-Mobile), an affiliate of Deutsche Telekom AG, Siemens AG (Siemens) and several other shareholders. In late 1996, Sistema JSFC acquired a majority stake in MTS and has remained the primary owner ever since.
MTS was the first company to launch GSM services in the Moscow region in 1994. In subsequent years, MTS has expanded rapidly in Russia largely through the acquisition of smaller independent players and became the leading national mobile operator
MTS initiated its international expansion in 2002 through the establishment of Mobile TeleSystems LLC, a joint venture with Beltelecom, the national fixed line operator in Belarus.
In 2003, MTS continued to expand in the CIS by acquiring the leading operator UMC in Ukraine, the biggest CIS market outside of Russia.
In June 2005, the Company acquired Barash Communications Technologies, Inc., the number one operator in Turkmenistan.
In September 2007, MTS continued its international expansion through the acquisition of the leading mobile operator in Armenia, K-Telecom.
In December 2008, MTS extended its brand outside the CIS borders. MTS and Shyam Telelink Limited, JSFC Sistema's telecommunications subsidiary in India, announced the agreement to allow Shyam Telelink to use MTS brand in India. The decision to introduce the brand to India is reflective of the brand’s success in the Company’s markets of operation since its launch in May 2006.
With mobile penetration well in excess of 100%, MTS began to shift its corporate strategy from one of acquisition to retention at the end of 2008 by developing its own proprietary distribution channels to engage customers more effectively. A number of acquisitions on national and local level MTS to quickly expand its monobrand retail chain
In October 2009, MTS acquired Comstar-UTS, the leading supplier of integrated telecommunication solutions in Russia and the CIS, as part of its 3i Strategy which calls for a focus on integration, the Internet and innovation to enhance its leadership in the telecommunications’ market. The acquisition provided access to important growth markets in commercial and residential broadband and allowed to realize value-accretive synergies in capital and operational expenditures as well as provided a foundation for the development of effective content platforms and services.
In March 2013, MTS acquired 25.1% stake in MTS Bank OJSC. Prior to the transaction, MTS already possessed a small stake in MTS Bank through MTS’s majority-owned subsidiary Moscow City Telephone Network OJSC (MGTS), therefore total MTS Group’s ownership stake in MTS Bank after completion of the transaction amounted to 26.85%. MTS and MTS Bank have also concluded a profit-sharing agreement whereby MTS and MTS Bank would realize 70% and 30% of the proceeds from the MTS Dengi (MTS Money) project respectively.
In April 2014, MTS acquired a 10.82% stake in OZON Holdings (OZON), the leading Russian e-commerce company. The investment in OZON complements MTS`s core mobile and retail businesses by aligning MTS with Russia’s leading e-commerce player. The acquisition provides exclusive access to the company’s sales channels for MTS’s products and services. To further enhance its online presence, MTS will leverage OZON’s logistical infrastructure, its proprietary delivery services, IT capabilities and industry expertise to improve MTS’s own online store.
In September 2014, MTS took possession of a controlling stake in the Russian-Uzbek entity Universal Mobile Systems LLC (UMS). UMS has been granted 2G, 3G and LTE licenses, and received frequencies, numbering capacity and other permits required for the launch of the operations. UMS has also received guaranties for the investment protection and return of investments in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Today, Mobile TeleSystems is the leading telecommunications group in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, offering mobile and fixed voice, broadband, pay TV as well as content and entertainment services in one of the world's fastest growing regions. Having been recognized internationally for corporate governance and transparency, MTS is not only a leading Russian blue-chip company, but a truly world-class organization. In 2014 MTS`s brand was included in the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2014 ranking for the seventh consecutive year and placed #80 among the top 100 global brands with the brand value of $12.18 billion. MTS is the only Russian telecommunications brand included in the BrandZ™ 2014 ranking.