In a surprising volte face, Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko has called for the urgent privatisation of fixed line operator Ukrtelecom. ‘Modernisation in the competing structures is narrowing Ukrtelekom’s market every day and every month. We have to admit today that if we do not proceed with privatization quickly and effectively, we will start losing the potential that could yield a significant financial profit for Ukraine,’ the president was quoted as saying on a visit to Kharkiv this week.
The sale of a stake in Ukrtelekom has been delayed several times since 1997, and the current administration has stalled on proposals by its predecessors to divest the state’s holding, leaving Ukrtelecom without crucial funding for modernisation projects and, perhaps more importantly, even more exposed to further price erosion of its core fixed line voice revenues. In July this year the government confirmed that the telco was on a list of enterprises planned for privatisation, but said that no date had yet been set for the offloading of all or part of the state’s 92.86% stake.