Austrian businessman Ronny Pecik, who is in the process of staging a so-called ‘hostile takeover’ of the Telekom Austria Group, has finally confirmed that Egyptian telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris is indeed involved in his approach to build a significant stake in the telecoms giant. Reuters, citing a report by Austrian newspaper Die Presse, quotes Pecik as saying: ‘He is a financial investor in my company Marathon Zwei Beteiligungs’. However, Pecik denied that he is Sawiris’s puppet, commenting: ‘I definitely rule out that I am a front man for anyone. I have never been a front man. I always bought companies at my own risk, and I have had a lot of sleepless nights because of that’. On 14 October 2011 Pecik’s RPR Privatstiftung acquired a call option on Telekom shares, exercisable until 18 June 2012, via two 100%-owned subsidiaries, Marathon Beteiligungs and Marathon Zwei Beteiligungs. The call option enables Marathon to acquire shares equating to 5.4% of the Austrian group, including corresponding voting rights of 5.4%.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, since early September speculation has been rife that Telekom Austria was being eyed as a potential acquisition target by an international investor group including Pecik and Sawiris. A purchase price of around EUR750 million (USD1.02 billion) has been mooted for a 20% stake in the company. Whilst Sawiris’s precise role in the approach has remained unclear until now, he recently pledged 4.23% of his shareholding in Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom as collateral against a USD600 million loan, further stoking speculation.