The Serbian finance ministry has said that Citigroup is keen to assist in the sale of the state’s holding in GSM operator Mobtel, once a dispute between majority stakeholder Bogoljub Karic and the government has been resolved. The state currently holds 49% of Mobtel but has spent the last year trying to up its stake and take control of the operator away from local tycoon Karic, who owns the remaining 51%. Karic founded the operator in tandem with the government under the rule of Slobodan Milosevic in 1994. Serbia’s capital investments minister Velimir Ilic said last month that the state – which also has control of rival cellco MTS 064 – must dispose of its Mobtel stake by May 2005. Once it has the majority stake, the government plans to sell to a foreign investor, with financial guidance from Citigroup. The ministry is hoping that the ownership dispute will be settled shortly so that a sale can take place before the end of this year; it says that Deutsche Telekom is among the list of potential buyers.
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