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Austrians to buy ‘Telecom Serbia’ and sell ‘VIP’ to Germans

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‘Telekom Austria’ is ready to pay to Serbia 31 percent stake and give the ‘VIP’ for 20 percent of the ‘OTE’ shares. Additional deadline was requested because of the EU stance that it is not acceptable that ‘Telekom Austria’ keeps 70 percent of the market share.

In negotiations over purchase of ‘Telecom Serbia’, the Austrians are attempting to get a new, more complicated solution. As ‘Blic’ learns unofficially the idea of ‘Telekom Austria’ is to purchase from Serbian Government 31 percent stake while exchange would be made for 20 percent stake presently held by ‘OTE’. Namely, ‘Deutsche Telekom’ (owner of ‘OTE’) would give those shares to the Austrian operator in exchange for ‘VIP’ mobile.

Our source from Serbian Government claims that ‘that would be a ‘win-win combination’, i.e. a winning combination for all: Serbia would get EUR 840 millions for its 31 percent stake, ‘Telekom Austria’ would undertake 51 percent stake of the company without additional efforts to reach the amount of EUR 1.4 billions and ‘Deutsche Telekom’ would finally enter the market of Serbia via ‘VIP’.

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The need for new solution appeared after informal signals that the Government in Belgrade received from the European Commission recently. As we learn unofficially the message from the EC was that ‘it is not acceptable for the EU that a mobile operator – ‘Telekom Austria’ – holds even two companies in Serbia and over 70 percent of mobile operator market share’. That would be contrary to anti-monopoly regulations. It was also said that ‘there are no similar examples in the European market and therefore such solution is not recommended to Serbia either’.

Even the Questionnaire included several questions over the tender for sale of ‘Telecom Serbia’ what means that Europe is closely following this tender as well as the work of the Anti-Monopoly Commission. Oral replies sent from the Government that ‘there shall be monopoly but not its abuse’ were obviously not convincing enough for European officials.

That is why it is believed that after suggestions by the EU the decision by the Anti-Monopoly Commission shall be conditioned approval for concentration of capital what means that ‘Telekom Austria’ shall have to undertake that within a stipulated time it shall sell ‘VIP’ and the third license for mobile operator.

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It is claimed that such arrangements are usual worldwide. Interest by ‘Deutsche Telekom’ to overtake ‘VIP’ and thus enter Serbian market instead to purchase ‘Telecom Serbia’ is explained that by such an arrangement the German company shall avoid problems with monopoly in the neighboring countries – Montenegro and Bosnia/Herzegovina.



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