Russia’s Sistema Group is reported to be looking to buy Telekom Austria Group in a deal worth in excess of USD6 billion. The Austrian Krone newspaper, citing market sources, said that Sistema was prepared to pay significantly over the current share price, which values the company at around USD6 billion. This would represent a significant discount on the USD9.8 billion that the company was valued at in September 2008, when Egypt based Orascom Telecom was in merger talks with the company.
The Austrian state-owned holding company OeIAG holds 27% of the company, and although it has previously looked to sell the stake, OeIAG spokeswoman Anita Bauer told Reuters that it had no current government mandate to unload its stake and therefore there was no basis for talks to sell it. Austria’s Social Democrats, who govern in a broad coalition with conservatives, oppose selling OeIAG’s holding but could contemplate a deal where it retained part of the new company.
However, with three-quarters of the company available on the stock market, it would be possible for Sistema to buy the company regardless of OeIAG’s intentions.
Telekom Austria has operations in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Macedonia, Belarus and Czech Republic. The Sistema Group is the controlling shareholder in Russia’s MTS Group – which also operates in Belarus. The Belarus government would almost certainly require that MTS sells one of its two networks in the country if it were to buy Telekom Austria.