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No Decision on Advisor for Cesky Telecom Privatization Before End April

A decision on the government’s advisor for the privatization of the dominant Czech fixed line operator Cesky Telecom (CT) will not be announced before the end of April, reports Thursday’s Hospodarske noviny (HN).

National Property Fund (FNM) spokeswoman Petra Krainova says that an advisor will be selected by this date only if no complications to the tender arise, such as an appeal from a failed bidder.

The government wants a definitive decision on an advisor by the end of May.

The steering committee for CT’s privatization held its first meeting on Monday of this week, and further talks are scheduled for next week. At the coming session, the committee should eliminate offers that do not meet the selection criteria or have other drawbacks. Bidders eliminated from the tender will be allowed to appeal.

The FNM received 11 bids for the advisor’s post in February and has already eliminated one bidder based on a technicality.

Reports in the Czech press have identified the bidders as Wood&Company with Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley with Patria Finance, CSFB with Ceska sporitelna, HSBC with Komercni banka, Rothchild with CAIB, JP Morgan, Citigroup, ABN Amro, Dresdner Kleinworth Wasserstein and UBS with Central European Trust.

The privatization of CT should start in 2H 2004 and be concluded in 2005. TDC along with Goldman Sachs; Swisscom with CVC Partners; and Czech investment group PPF have allegedly expressed unofficial interest in the state’s 51 % stake in CT.

(Interfax 02.iv.04)

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