Slovenian conglomerate Autocommerce is in the final stages of talks to up its 36% stake in MVNO Debitel Slovenia by purchasing a 52% holding from German owner Debitel Konzernfinanzierungs, it announced yesterday. The majority stake was put up for sale in November and media reports suggested that the most serious bidders would be the country’s leading wireless operators, Mobitel and Si.Mobil, as well as broadband operator and 3G licence holder T-2. However, Autocommerce, which includes businesses ranging from car retail and manufacturing to hotels, has pre-emptive rights to the stake. On Tuesday business daily Finance quoted unofficial sources as saying that Autocommerce would be only a transitional owner and would eventually sell the MVNO to energy company Petrol. Petrol spokesman Sandi Salkic told Finance that Petrol had carried out due diligence of Debitel and submitted a bid. It was now waiting for the owners to make a decision. Finance says that Autocommerce and Petrol already held talks about a possible price, but have yet to reach an agreement. Debitel is estimated to be worth up to EUR20 million (USD26 million); it has around 100,000 mobile subscribers.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Debitel is Slovenia’s third largest mobile services provider, piggybacking on Mobitel’s GSM/UMTS network under a resale agreement signed in October 1998. Its rival Volja Mobil is a subsidiary of fixed line and internet service provider Voljatel, and launched MVNO services under the Izimobil brand in late 2005, also over Mobitel’s network.