The Telekom Austria Group has confirmed that as of 25 November, approximately 15.012% of its shares are now held directly and indirectly by Ronny Pecik’s RPR Privatstiftung investment vehicle, which also holds indirect call options to acquire additional 0.790% of the company’s shares. The announcement follows RPR Privatstiftung’s exercising of its existing call options for 5.4% of the group’s shares, which were previously acquired via its indirect 100% subsidiary Marathon Zwei Beteiligungs on 17 October 2011. In addition, Marathon has acquired call options for an additional 9.5% of Telekom Austria shares, which were immediately exercised. This means that Marathon now holds a total of 14.980% of Telekom Austria’s shares. Elsewhere, Everest Investment, a 100% subsidiary of RPR Privatstiftung, owns a further 0.030% of Telekom Austria’s shares, with call options in place to acquire an additional 0.790% of the telco, prior to 15 March 2012. In total, this represents direct and indirect holdings of 15.810% in the telecoms group via shares and options.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, since early September speculation has been rife that Telekom Austria was being eyed as a so-called ‘hostile takeover’ target by an international investor group comprising Vienna-based tycoon Pecik and Egyptian telecoms entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris, an investor in Pecik’s Marathon vehicle. Last month Pecik denied that he was 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’. For his part, Sawiris recently pledged 4.23% of his shareholding in Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom as collateral against a USD600 million loan, further stoking speculation.
In related news Format Magazine has reported that a group of Oman-based investors has shown interest in buying the Austrian government’s 28.4% stake in the Telekom Austria Group. Acting on behalf of an as-yet unnamed investor group, local businessman Mirko Kovats wrote to the head of state holding company OIAG to sound out the government’s interest in a potential deal. In its reply to Kovats, the former head of bankrupt Austrian engineering group A-TEC, OIAG dismissed the enquiry, describing itself a ‘stable core shareholder’.