America Movil could enter the race to buy a stake in Telekom Srbija independently of Telekom Austria, even though its Austrian unit is reported to have already submitted a non-binding offer for the state-owned Serbian operator.
According to Serbian newspaper Blic, the Mexican group may automatically enter the bidding process because Telekom Austria is facing opposition from other Austrian shareholders over plans to buy the Serbian operator, primarily due to funding issues.
Telekom Austria Group is said to be one of several parties to have submitted a non-binding bid for Telekom Srbija by the expiry of the deadline on Sunday, Aug. 2. Other bidders reportedly include Deutsche Telekom, an unnamed Russian company and a dozen investment funds.
America Movil has said in the past that it plans to use Telekom Austria as a base to build up its presence in Eastern Europe. The company now owns almost 60 per cent of the Austrian group. State-owned investment company ÖBIB (Österreichische Bundes- und Industriebeteiligungen, the new name for the former ÖIAG) owns 28.4 per cent.
However, the Austrian Kurier newspaper also noted that Telekom Austria is unlikely to make a binding offer for the Serbian operator despite registering interest. The paper said the company would need to carry out another capital raising exercise to fund such a deal, but the Austrian state is likely to veto such a move because it could cost Austrian tax payers up to €500 million ($547 million) to enable ÖBIB to keep its stake at the same level.
The Blic report also noted that Serbia has not yet determined the size of the stake to be sold nor the price, although other reports have said the state's stake of over 58 per cent is up for grabs.
Citing undisclosed sources, Reuters said last week that offers are likely to value Telekom Srbija at four to five times its expected EBITDA of about €400 million.
Reuters also noted that Serbia is Telekom Srbija's single biggest shareholder with a 58.11 per cent stake, while the company itself owns a 20 per cent stake. The Serbia privatisation agency invited non-binding offers at the beginning of July, setting criteria for bidders such as assets valued at least at €2 billion or reported revenues of more than €500 million.
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