The Austrian People’s Party (OVP), one half of the country’s coalition government, has indicated tentative plans to sell off the state’s remaining stake in Telekom Austria Group, alongside additional government holdings in the post office and energy company OMV. 28.42% of the pan-European telecoms group is presently owned by government holding company OIAG, whilst the remaining 71.58% of shares are in free float. When quizzed on the government’s privatisation plans in an interview with Austrian financial newspaper WirtschaftsBlatt, OVP chairman Karlheinz Kopf commented: ‘OIAG chief Markus Beyrer is very secretive. There is not enough potential in infrastructure privatisation; telecommunications, postal, OMV would be privatised immediately’.
However, it is believed that the party’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO), opposes any further privatisation of state companies. The coalition government, led by Social Democrat leader Werner Faymann, was sworn in back in December 2008, after forming an uneasy alliance to combat the growing threat from right-wing parties the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO), both of which made strong gains in the September 2008 election; the SPO and the OVP both suffered their worst results since 1945, and many observers speculated that any subsequent coalition would be forced to include at least one of the two far-right parties.