Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has said that he is keen to raise his indirect stake in Telekom Austria Group to 25%, Bloomberg reports. In 4Q11 it was reported that the telecoms tycoon had partnered with Vienna-based investor Ronny Pecik to launch a so-called ‘hostile takeover’ of Telekom Austria, and the duo now jointly hold a 20.118% stake in the company, via Pecik’s RPR Privatstiftung and Marathon investment vehicles. In October 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’. Although the outspoken Sawiris has remained uncharacteristically coy over his role in the proceedings until now, the Egyptian pledged 4.23% of his shareholding in Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom as collateral against a USD600 million loan, further stoking speculation.
Speaking at a press conference in Munich this week, Sawiris said that he intends to work with the Austrian government towards assuming an active role in the company because he ‘believes in’ Telekom Austria. The government currently holds a majority 28.42% stake in the telecoms group, via the state-owned OIAG holding company.
Sawiris also indicated that Telekom’s markets outside of Austria were especially attractive, adding: ‘We will get value out of the company’. Outside of its domestic market, Telekom operates in Central and Eastern Europe through the following subsidiaries: MobilTel (Bulgaria); VIPnet (Croatia); Velcom (Belarus); Si.Mobil (Slovenia); Mobilkom Serbia; Mobilkom Macedonia and Mobilkom Liechtenstein.