A1 Telekom Austria has confirmed that it is not in talks with France Telecom (FT) relating to the potential acquisition of the latter’s Orange Austria unit. In July 2011, as part of an ongoing portfolio review, FT put its Austrian, Swiss and Portuguese assets up for sale; the decision was motivated by slow growth in some of FT’s European markets. However, speculation regarding to the Austrian cellco’s future has been conspicuous by its absence in recent months. CEO Hannes Ametsreiter told Reuters: ‘We are not involved in the talks, so I cannot say whether a sale is happening or not. It is very unlikely we will be part of it as we’re in a special position as the market’s number one’. Last month, in a rare visit to Austria, Hutchison Whampoa boss Canning Fok kept his own cards close to his chest, admitting: ‘[Orange is] a very good company, but I cannot comment on rumours’.
In other news, Ametsreiter has distanced Telekom Austria from local press reports indicating that the company is concerned by the prospects of a ‘hostile takeover’ from an international consortium led by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom Telecom, and Vienna-based businessman Ronny Pecik. Under Austrian stock exchange law shareholders are required to notify the Vienna Stock Exchange (VSE), the Financial Market Authority as well as the company, within two trading days if the shareholder’s stake breaches specific levels. The CEO confirmed: ‘This has not been the case so far. If there is anyone out there holding more than 5% he should have communicated. I cannot say anything more’.