The Czech government has increased its chances of finding a suitable buyer for its 51% stake in Cesky Telekom by agreeing to allow telcos to form bidding partnerships with investment groups. The state’s decision will allow interested telecoms operators – thought to include Swisscom, France Télécom and TDC – to link up with investment banks to present more attractive offers. The government has also agreed to speed up the tender process, with preliminary bids due in the first week of February. A shortlist of acceptable offers will then be drawn up and the companies involved will then have around six weeks to submit their final bid. The winning bidder is expected to be announced at the end of March.
The government has also given itself a safety net, however. If it deems none of the preliminary offers to be attractive it will end the bidding process and go ahead with a stock market flotation, which is likely to occur in April. A Financial Times report says that this ‘dual-track’ approach has been criticised by Czech brokerage firms which were keen to see a straightforward flotation. The government is hoping to raise up to CZK60 billion (EUR1.94 billion) from the sale.