Telco assessing its options after Tajikistan’s Anti-Monopoly Service misses deadline.

Telia Company on Monday announced that its deal to sell its Tajikistan operation Tcell has lapsed.

The Sweden-based telco said Tajikistan’s Anti-Monopoly Commission missed a deadline to issue a decision on whether to approve the agreement.

"We are now assessing alternative ownership solutions for Tcell," said Emil Nilsson, head of Eurasia at Telia.

Telia agreed to sell its 60% stake in Tcell to the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which already owns the remaining 40%, in September. The deal, which valued Tcell at $66 million, was part of Telia’s strategy of exiting Eurasia to focus on the Nordics and Baltics.

Telia originally hoped to complete the transaction at the end of 2016.

However, in January it emerged that the process had been delayed after Tajikistan’s authorities claimed that Tcell owed $19.7 million in tax, a claim disputed by Telia.

That same month, Telia CEO Johan Dennelind complained about the situation in an open letter addressed to the prime minister of Tajikistan, noting that, as well as the disputed tax claim, the Anti-Monopoly Commission had yet to issue a decision.

"We have taken all relevant actions in trying to close the deal," said Nilsson on Monday. "The proposed buyer of our interest in Tcell, AKFED, is an established investor in the region with multiple companies in its current portfolio and a long history in Tcell."