Four European telecom groups lead the race for the Czech government’s 51% stake in Cesky Telecom, with the deadline for final bids due today. Frenzied bidding has pushed up the incumbent operator’s share price by around a quarter since November, with the stake now expected to sell for around USD2.9 billion. France Télécom and Telefónica are the two heavyweights bidding as part of consortiums for one of the continent’s most desirable telecoms assets, whilst Swisscom and Belgacom are also in the running. Telefónica is believed to be ahead of its rivals, having come up with the highest offer in the first round of bidding, equivalent to around CZK420 (USD18) a share.
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