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Russian mobile operators stop selling Apple's iPhone, report says

A customer looks at a display of handsets for sale inside a MegaFon shop in St. Petersburg November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
A customer looks at a display of handsets for sale inside a MegaFon shop in St. Petersburg November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vimpelcom, one of Russia's top mobile operators, will no longer sell Apple Inc's iPhone, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, after similar moves by other mobile companies in Russia.

Vimpelcom ended negotiations with Apple over iPhone sales this month as the U.S. company would not soften its contract terms, the paper said, citing a person close to the operator.

The Financial Times also reported that Russian operators MTS and Megafon have halted iPhone sales.

A representative for MTS told Reuters that the company's contract to sell iPhones ended in September 2012, so it did not purchase the latest model, the iPhone 5. But it did continue to sell older models of iPhones in stock.

MTS is actively pushing sales of Apple's tablet computer the iPad, as it sees a huge potential for such products in Russia, the representative said.

A spokesman for Megafon said on Wednesday that it has not sold iPhones since 2009.

Vimpelcom and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The operators were hurt by the fact that Russia does not allow subsidies for handsets, making the phones too expensive for the average customer, the paper reported.

Apple, which has a 4.5 percent share of the Russian smartphone market, can still sell in Russia through its own resale stores and other mobile phone retailers, the Financial Times reported.

(Reporting By Megan Davies; Editing by David Gregorio)

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