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Government contacts over 30 Potential Cesky Telecom Bidders

The Czech government has addressed over 30 companies who could be interested in privatization of 51 % stake in the dominant fixed-line operator Cesky Telecom (CT).

“The number of telecommunications firms is about the same as that of financial investors, and the response so far to the appeal to express preliminary interest in the stock has been very good,” a source familiar with the privatization process told the CTK news agency, adding that most of the firms addressed are foreign.

A consortium of Credit Suisse First Boston and the Czech bank Ceska sporitelna (CS) is advising the state on the sale.

Interest in CT has reportedly been expressed by the consortium of Denmark's TDC and Goldman Sachs, Britain's Vodafone and Orange, Switzerland's Swisscom and the Czech financial group PPF. Analysts say the government could receive CZK 50 bn to CZK 65 bn for its stake. The market value of the 51 % stake is currently over CZK 55 bn.

The government is expected to address the issue in November. The government could sell its stake to a single bidder or offer it on capital markets, or both.

Czech Premier Stanislav Gross would like to sell the stake on the stock market. On the other hand, IT Minister Vladimir Mlynar and some economists say a direct sale to a strategic investor would be more advantageous.

(Interfax 08.x.04)

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