Telekom Austria CEO says expansion plans not limited by ownership structure

Telekom Austria CEO Alejandro Plater said the operator's European expansion plans would not be aided by América Móvil becoming its sole shareholder.

Plater said Telekom Austria's two major shareholders -- América Móvil and the Austrian state -- provided sufficient backing and that the operator's growth and expansion plans would not necessarily benefit from América Móvil being its sole owner, Reuters reported, citing an interview Plater gave to Austrian daily Wirtschaftsblatt.

Telekom Austria plans to remain a key player in Central and Eastern Europe, Plater said, pointing to Bulgaria and Belarus as examples. However, he confirmed that he had never presented a plan to acquire Serbian incumbent Telekom Srbija to Telekom Austria's board.

The Austrian operator and América Móvil had been tipped as potential buyers of the controlling 58.1 per cent stake Serbia's government holds in Telekom Srbija, but neither company appeared in a list of bidders published in August, Austrian daily Die Presse reported at the time.

Telekom Austria originally made a play for the Telekom Srbija stake in 2011, but its €1.1 billion offer was rejected by Serbia's government.

The Serbian government last week said it has now abandoned its latest attempt to sell its holding in Telekom Srbija because the bids it had received were too low, Reuters reported in a separate article. Prime minister Aleksandar Vucic said the Serbian government is now considering selling a package of minority Telekom Srbija shares on the open stock market as part of a broader plan to reduce central governmental control of Serbia's economy, which it make as part of an IMF loan agreement, Reuters reported.

For its part, América Móvil is leveraging its stake in Telekom Austria to expand into Eastern European markets. The Mexico-based company recently reclassified its stake in Netherlands-headquartered KPN as an asset for sale, in a move that appears to strengthen its focus on other European markets.

KPN announced in November that Oscar von Hauske Solís, COO and board member of América Móvil, is leaving the Dutch company's supervisory board as part of that sale.

Meanwhile Plater said Telekom Austria is also fully focused on implementing European Union plans to eliminate roaming charges by launching new offers and services, Reuters reported.

For more:
- see this Reuters article on Plater
- read this separate Reuters report on Telekom Srbija
- view this Die Presse report (in Austrian)

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