According to Albanian press reports the on-again/off-again sale of a 76% stake in Albtelecom could be back on track following a meeting between the Albanian Prime Minister and his Turkish counterpart. Following the meeting, Prime Minister Berisha of Albania announced that the sale contract with Calik Eneriji, which was initially agreed in June last year but then revoked four months later, would be reinstated with a number of revisions.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the Albanian government has been attempting to privatise Albtelecom for more than eight years, having first announced plans to sell a stake to a strategic investor in 1998. However tangible progress was slow, and it was not until July 2004 that the process properly got underway, with the state revealing plans to sell a 76% stake to a qualified international investor. According to the terms of the international tender, eligible bidders were required to submit an expression of interest to the Ministry of Economy by 3 December 2004. The ministry claimed six parties – reportedly from Slovenia, South Korea, the US, Kuwait and Ireland – bought copies of the sale documents, but only one made a formal proposal. In June 2005 the winner was announced as the Calik Eneriji Telekom consortium, a joint venture between Turkish power utility company Calik Eneriji, the EBRD, the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and the American Bank of Albania. Turk Telekom was signed up to run the company under a management agreement. Calik Enerji bid EUR120 million for the 76% stake and the deal was expected to be completed and approved by the Albanian parliament in July 2005, but following the country’s general election and the subsequent change in government, in October the new Barisha administration refused to ratify the sale, claiming that it was not in the best interest of the country. Instead it hired an international consultant, Deloitte Czech Republic, to review the agreement and the tender procedure.