Ongoing reports and speculation that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim could next target Telekom Austria in his bid to break into Europe, are causing some anxiety among the operator's workforce, which is now calling for clarity over the issue from its major shareholder, state holding company ÖIAG.
According to Reuters, the head of Telekom Austria's works council, Walter Hotz, on Monday plans to call a meeting of ÖIAG's supervisory board to establish its intentions with regard to Slim's stake.
Hotz wants to know to what extent ÖIAG would participate if a capital increase were to go ahead and whether it was in talks with Slim over a "syndication agreement", as was reported by Austrian newspaper Der Standard. Telekom Austria is expected to carry out a capital increase this year.
Slim now owns 26.8 per cent of Telekom Austria after buying a 3.14 per cent stake from a family foundation, while state-owned ÖIAG is the largest shareholder with a 28.42 per cent stake.
The works council regards the government's position as the largest shareholder in Telekom Austria as the best guarantee of jobs and the future of the group, and is concerned about the impact of a dilution of this stake.
According to Der Boersianer, the meeting should take place in the next 14 days.
Der Standard also said that relations between ÖIAG and Carlos Slim are not as harmonious as has been suggested in the media, following various comments from América Móvil CEO Daniel Hajj that range from a possible name change at the operator, through to a complete overhaul of all divisions within the company. Any take-over would be a friendly one, Hajj has stressed nonetheless.
Hajj recently said his company has big plans for its stake in Telekom Austria and is not out to make a fast buck in Europe. The CEO also said he had been irritated by América Móvil's failure to buy a majority stake in Dutch operator KPN because of resistance from a KPN foundation.
Rudolf Kemler, the head of ÖIAG and also supervisory board chairman of Telekom Austria, recently told Austrian state radio ORF that the Austrian government is ready to let América Móvil become the biggest investor in the telecoms operator, or even own a majority stake, Bloomberg reported.
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