Cesky Telecom: strategic investor or flotation. Government remains undecided

23 Nov 2004

The Czech government remains split over how best to proceed with the sale of a 51.1% stake in Cesky Telecom. According to Dow Jones Newswires, the Prague administration organised a seminar at the end of last week to explain to ministers the differences between a sale to a strategic investor and a public offering. The Finance Ministry has been reported as being in favour of a flotation, while the Minister of Infomatics Vladimir Mlynar is keen on the other option. The Finance Ministry claims that selling to a strategic investor would likely lead to the delisting of the company from the Prague bourse, because the new owner would be required to buy out the remaining 49% of the shares currently trading on the exchange. This could have major implications for the Czech stock exchange, given that trade in Cesky Telecom shares accounts for up to a third of the bourse’s daily volume. Analysts back this argument up by claiming that a share sale would be quicker to complete (around three months) than a direct sale which could take up to a year.

According to unnamed government sources six telecoms firms and 12 financial investors have expressed an interest in acquiring the stake. These include Swisscom, a former member of the Telsource consortium which until 2003 was a Cesky Telecom shareholder, Danish telco TDC and Telekom Austria. The Czech government is expected to make a firm decision on which vehicle to use by Wednesday.

Czech Republic, A1 Telekom Austria Group, O2 Czech Republic (incl. CETIN), Swisscom