Serbia’s government has announced that 6 companies have lodged binding bids for the available 58% stake in the state-owned operator Telekom Srbija.
Over the next 2 weeks the government will choose its favoured bidder, and negotiations will then commence. This is no guarantee of a win, however – the minister for trade, tourism and telecommunications Rasim Ljajic has stated that “we may decide to give up the privatisation” if no single bid is considered adequate.
Previously, an unnamed government official had cited China Telecom as a potential bidder. Ljajic did not deny this but noted that the majority of the bidders are investment funds rather than operators. Earlier rumours had indicated that Telekom Austria and Deutsche Telekom had expressed interest; however both companies have confirmed that they will not bid.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has stated his belief that the majority stake in the operator should attract a bid of around €1.4 billion. The Prime Minister has been quoted as saying that the government wanted a “significantly higher offer” than the rejected €1.1 billion offered by Telekom Austria for a 51% stake back in 2011.
The country’s privatisation agency has stipulated that firms will only be allowed to bid if they have assets worth at least €2 billion or reported revenues of at least €500 million. Telekom Srbija hosts around 4.8 million of Serbia’s 10.3 million connections, and also holds controlling stakes in both Montenegro’s M:Tel and Bosnia’s Telekom Srpske.