At least eight companies have reportedly entered bids to purchase 100% of Kosovar full-service provider IPKO from Telekom Slovenije – including Serbian state-owned operator Telekom Srbija, which operates under the ‘MTS’ brand – according to local news outlets. Serbian daily Blic writes that it had ‘exclusively’ discovered that Telekom Srbija has proceeded to the second stage of the tender process and is competing with seven other firms for IPKO. The paper did not name its sources and whilst it noted that Telekom Srbija would not officially confirm its findings, a senior official at the company reiterated the company’s interest in the transaction, stating: ‘Our offer is not political but economic and very important for us in the realisation of our goal to become a telecommunications leader.’ Vladimir Lucic, coordinator of internet and multimedia at Telekom Srbija, went on to comment on the discussion surrounding the company’s bid for IPKO: ‘I do not understand those who compare our offer with the offer we made in Albania two years ago. We already operate in Kosovo and Metohija as a fixed and mobile operator, and I don’t see why anyone would be against our additional investment, because it is primarily good for users and the economy in this area.’ As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Telekom Srbija entered an ultimately unsuccessful bid for Albanian mobile provider Telekom Albania in late 2018. Its offer was met with concern from the Albanian government, which highlighted the potential security risks from a state-owned company gaining control of strategic infrastructure. Telekom Srbija has had an official presence in Kosovo since December 2016 when it was awarded a licence as part of an EU-brokered deal. MTS Kosovo launched commercial fixed and mobile services in parts of Kosovo in Q2 2017.
Separately, meanwhile, Pristina-based daily Kosova Press claimed that ten offers had been submitted for IPKO, also without stating its source.