The Latvian government has given its preliminary approval to a management and employee buy-out of Lattelecom, the country’s dominant fixed line telco. Transportation Minister Ainars Slesers told the Baltic News Service that employees were ready to pay LVL290 million (USD550 million) for a 100% stake in the company. Currently the state owns a 51% share of the company, with the remainder held by TeliaSonera. Arno Pjatkins, a spokesman for Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, said the approval was preliminary and a final decision would be made in three months time, after the company’s management team has furnished answers to key questions such as how Lattelecom’s managers will raise the finance and what the privatised company’s tariff policy would be.
The employee buy-out option was just one of several scenarios the government considered, Pjatkins said. TeliaSonera repeatedly stated its interested in buying Lattelecom, but the Latvian government was reluctant to see the Scandinavian telecom giant, which also owns a 49% stake in LMT, Latvia’s largest mobile phone operator, gain a dominant position in both the landline and cellular markets.