The Austrian business mogul, Ronny Pecik, has acquired a call option on 5.4 per cent of Austria Telekom's outstanding shares. The option, which can be exercised until June 2012, has been rumoured to be part of a plan by Pecik and others to make an hostile bid for the telecoms operator.
Last month the Austrian magazine Format reported that Pecik and three other investors, including Orascom Telecom, were targeting a 20 per cent stake in Telekom Austria. This move prompted the operator to appoint Bank of America Merrill Lynch to devise a strategy to stop any hostile takeover attempts.
Adding weight to Pecik's intent, the CEO of Orascom Telecom, Samih Sawiris, and brother of the Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, was reported by Bloomberg as wanting to develop its holding to include other European countries.
"I can confirm that my brother plans to expand in Austria and Switzerland," Samih Sawiris told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung (also indicating a possible interest in bidding for France Telecom's Orange Switzerland).
Responding to this news, a Telekom Austria spokeswoman said that the company "welcomes any new investors." The company, whose largest shareholder is the Austrian state, is now valued at €3.7 billion following recent share price rises.
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