Telenor to pay $1.9b for Serbian phone firm

Telenor of Norway offered to buy Serbian mobile phone operator Mobi 63 for 1.5 billion euros ($1.92 billion), an Associated Press report said.

The report said Telenor outbid Mobilkom Austria and Egypt's Orascom Telecom in an auction organized by the government, which held 70% in Mobi 63, and a group of Austrian investors who controlled the remaining 30%.

The report said the winning bidder would get a 10-year renewable operating license for the Serbian territory.

There is only one other mobile telephony provider in Serbia, state-owned Telekom Serbia.

The government had said that, following the successful sale of Mobi 63, it would not open the market for a third operator in the next two years, according to the report

The starting price for Mobi 63, including its infrastructure and subscriber base, was 800 million euros ($1.01 billion), the report said.

Of the amount reached at the auction, 320 million euros ($405.25 million) went exclusively to the state for the license, while the remainder would be split between the state and the Austrian Holdenhurst Holding proportionately to their respective stakes.

The deal is expected to be signed 'in several days,' Vladislav Cvetkovic, the government official in charge of the auction, said.