The Bosnia & Herzegovina government has appointed Raiffeisen Investment to prepare an international tender for the sale of the state’s 80% stake in the country’s second largest fixed line operator, Telekom Srpske. Deutsche Telekom’s Hungarian unit, Magyar Telekom, has been tipped as a potential bidder, alongside Telekom Austria, Telekom Slovenije and Vodafone, and the tender is expected to launch in May.
Telekom Srpske was established on 10 December 1996 when the former PTT of Republika Srpska (RS) – the predominantly Serbian region in the north and east of the country – was split up into separate entities for telecoms and postal services. It offers fixed line services in RS with headquarters in Banja Luka and had an estimated 330,000 lines in service by the end of 2004. The telco’s mobile division Mobi’s was founded and launched its first services in 1999, although it was not officially awarded its GSM-900 concession until two years later; the licence was renewed in October 2004 at a cost of BAM140 million. Unlike its parent company, Mobi’s has networks covering the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina and offered coverage to over 90% of the population by June 2005; it had an estimated 575,000 mobile users by end-September 2005.