Report: Austrian state expects to maintain Telekom Austria stake

Carlos Slim may have gained majority control over Telekom Austria, but the Austrian state has indicated that it has every intention of maintaining its minority stake in the operator.

Rudolf Kemler, the head of ÖIAG, told the Kurier newspaper that the state holding company will in all likelihood retain its 28.4 per cent stake after Telekom Austria has carried out a planned €1 billion ($1.3 billion) capital raising exercise. Telekom Austria shareholders are due to vote on the capital raising at the AGM on Aug. 15.

Kemler commented that ÖIAG preferred to maintain a 28.4 per cent stake rather than a blocking minority of 25 per cent plus one share to prevent the stake from being diluted and falling below this level. He added that it is always a good idea to avoid "standing on the edge of a precipice" in the event of a capital raising.

The ÖIAG chief also gave his backing to current Telekom Austria CEO Hannes Ametsreiter, who was forced to defend his position following a recent surprise €400 million write-down on the company's Bulgarian business. Kemler said Ametsreiter's contract was only renewed a year ago, and said there was no question of a premature departure.

Carlos Slim-owned América Móvil revealed earlier in July it would own 50.8 per cent of Telekom Austria following the completion of its offer for shares in the Austrian operator that it does not already own. The offer of €7.15 per share expired on July 10. However, the company extended its offer by three more months.

With Telekom Austria, América Móvil has gained an important asset that will enable it to build up business on a new continent at a time when it faces upheaval on its own domestic market in Latin America. Telekom Austria already owns a mix of fixed and mobile operations in Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Slovenia. As of Dec. 31, 2013, it had about 2.6 million fixed-line subscribers, 20.1 million wireless subscribers and revenues of €4.1 billion.

For more:
- see this Kurier article (in German)

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